ALA WAI CANAL (HawaiiNewsNow) - There is a renewed push to build a new bridge across the Ala Wai Canal. There are currently three bridges on the west end of the waterway. The McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board is holding a special meeting next week to explore the possibility of constructing a new bridge farther east to connect the makai end of University Avenue to Kalaimoku Street in Waikiki. Residents will have a chance to discuss different options, including whether the proposed bridge should be open to pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles or buses.
Robert Ballard lives in Ala Wai Plaza and walks to Waikiki often. He supports the idea of a new bridge.
"I would like to see a pedestrian and bicycle bridge put over the Ala Wai. I'm not really in favor of extra vehicular traffic. I think that would be kind of disruptive," said Ballard, a Moiliili resident.
Supporters believe another connection would benefit University of Hawaii students living in Waikiki. The new bridge could also serve as an additional evacuation route in case of an emergency.
Neighborhood board members have voted against the idea in the past after hearing community concerns about issues such as noise and crime.
"The condos have talked about how it would raise their property values by having a bridge to Waikiki so they don't want to pay more taxes. They also have a problem with traffic," explained chair Ron Lockwood.
Ala Wai Elementary submitted a petition against the plan back in 1999, according to Lockwood. The current principal said that at this point, the school isn't taking a position.
"I think it's important that we have the opportunity to have discussions with the city if it does come to that point, just so that we can have some input as to what impact it would have," said principal Sean Wong.
Mike Formby, the director of the Dept. of Transportation Services, issued this statement:
"We are aware of the communities' prior opposition to a vehicular bridge linking the University area with Waikiki. However, we are now informed that the communities may support a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Ala Wai canal (no vehicles) and are aware that the topic was vetted through a public input/community process associated with publication of the June 2013 Waikiki Regional Circulator Study. Clearly there is no present funding. We believe any pedestrian/bicycle bridge would have to be iconic in nature and perhaps implemented through a public-private partnership. Linking Waikiki to University through a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Ala Wai would facilitate multi-modal connections (ped/bike) to rail along University Avenue."
The meeting will take place on March 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ala Wai Elementary School cafeteria.