King Street reconstruction impacts Chinatown merchants - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

King Street reconstruction impacts Chinatown merchants

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Chris Takashige Chris Takashige
Sandy Ng Sandy Ng
Tony Nguyen Tony Nguyen
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The city's ambitious $5.5 million project to reconstruct King street between River and Bethel streets has reached the corner of King and Nuuanu. It's complex work.

"We have to bring in and build the utilities back in layers because certain utilities have to go in before the others," Department of Design and Construction director Chris Takashige said.

New sewer and water lines have been installed, and gas lines are being redone.

Businesses in Chinatown have had a front row seat and felt the impact of the road work.

"There's been a lot of traffic in the area. A lot of people try to avoid this area," said Sandy Ng of Helen and David Gifts, Jewelry & Clothing.

"When they open up the area that they just worked on, cars drive on by, you can just see all the dust pick up," said Tony Nguyen of Lin's Lei Shop.

"We realize that. We hear that from the community. But we don't have a choice," Takashige said. "For us to go in and pave in front of a business, our only other option is not to pave."

When the city closes lanes along the busy corridor shop owners said traffic backups spill onto side streets.

"It was backed up pretty far back, and then it's slow moving," Nguyen said.

"We can't have just a narrow barrier for the cars to traverse inches away from that work. In all likelihood it takes up one and a-half to two lanes even if we're working on one lane," Takashige said.

There have been more than 80 work stoppages or slowdowns since work began in March, 2012. Takashige said crews must work around elements that don't show up on blueprints. Some of the underground utilities are 80 years old.

Despite the inconveniences, many Chinatown merchants believe the payoff will be worth it.

"New is better, right? Hopefully, it'll pay off after it's done," Nguyen said.

"After all the construction work I think people will slowly start to come back," Ng said.

"A lot of those lines are going to be refurbished. A lot of those lines are going to be brought up to a better quality," Takashige said.

Once the gas lines are finished, repaving will cap off the job. Takashige said the project is on schedule and should be finished in October. For updates on the King Street Reconstruction go to www.kingstreetrecon.com.

 

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