HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu International Airport will be the first stop for world leaders arriving for the APEC summit. With dignitaries arriving in less than a month, several badly-needed repairs are almost done.
The state is spending more than $7 million on four projects that are scheduled to be finished by the end of the month. The focus is on the international arrivals area. One project will fix problems along a walkway near Gates 24 and 25.
"Not only did it look terrible, but there were some practical issues as far as when it would rain, there would actually be literally a river running across that one walkway," said Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. "So people would get off their planes and they would be trudging through this water."
"This is critical because APEC is so important. It's also critical for our economy, for our most important industry in hospitality, and for the people of Hawaii who use this airport all the time," said Lt. Governor Brian Schatz.
A rock garden will be added to the area. Another special touch is a ceiling that is designed to look like a wave.
"We wanted to address these concerns and at the same time, give people an idea of, 'Hey you know what, I am in Hawaii. I am in paradise,'" explained Meisenzahl.
Improvements are also being made to the Ewa pedestrian breezeway. Worn floor tiles are being removed and the new artwork in the walkway reflects a Hawaiian theme.
"It was like potholes over here. It was literally a danger and that really helped us speed this project through cause it was a matter of safety," Meisenzahl said.
Concrete curbs along the Ewa concourse are being repaired and new planter boxes are going in. Another project involves replacing ripped canopies.
"These canopies were tattered. They were torn, flapping in the wind. People would come off these international flights, they'd come right out and this was the first thing they'd see, and this was embarrassing for the airport," said Meisenzahl.
But these APEC projects don't tackle problems in other areas, such as leaks in the ceiling, and broken escalators and elevators. The aging airport was built back in the early 1970's, and the DOT officials are looking at ways to address these issues.
"Things aren't going to happen overnight, but I can assure the public that this is a top priority," said Meisenzahl.