WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Trucks loaded with sand will drive along portions of Waikiki beach and long stretches of the beach will be closed as the state tries to kick-start its stalled beach nourishment project. The announcement comes while Hawaii's visitor industry gears up for Spring Break and celebrates record visitor spending.
For several weeks the state's contractor, Healy Tibbitts, has been pumping sand from off shore deposits to a dewatering basin on the beach. That part of the project has worked well. But getting the sand from the dewatering basin several hundred yards West to places on the beach where the state wants to widen the beach has been a big problem.
The original plan was to blow sand as much as 800 yards through a pipeline from the dewatering basin to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Once there, the sand would be spread out to widen the beach as much as 37 feet. But the blower did not have enough power to send a sufficient amount of sand through the pipe.
So now the state, in consultation with visitor industry executives, has decided to truck the sand along world famous Waikiki Beach from one end of the project to the other.
"I mean it's not good for the tourism. We're going to lose money because the beaches are closed. Hotels are going to lose money. Restaurants are going to lose money. I don't have a solution, but I don't like it," said Waikiki Resident Matt Wong after hearing about the revised beach nourishment plan.
The trucking operation will begin March 12th and may last until late April. The work will close portions of Waikiki Beach seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 12 noon at which time the beach will re-open.
There will still be plenty of beach for people to visit at either end of the project, but many tourists will have to walk to get there.
"It can't be good. It's like coming here and it rains the whole time you are here. It'll leave a bad taste in their mouth I'm sure," said Waikiki regular Keith Munson.
"Seven to 12 p.m. every day. It's going to be hard," added Aaron Rutledge who runs the Star Beachboys concession which is right in the middle of the affected area.
"That five or six weeks that they are doing this trucking, four weeks might be Spring Break, and that's a disaster for us," Rutledge added.
He expects he will have to cut employee hours and may ask the city to pro-rate the fee he pays to operate on the beach because he expects Star Beachboys will take a significant financial hit.
"Hopefully they can get it done quicker than what they think they can - they don't run into any more snafus. And when it's done it's going to be good," Rutledge concluded.
The state will officially announce its intentions during a press conference Thursday afternoon.