A new plan to stabilize a famous stretch of shoreline is moving forward. Funding for the Royal Hawaiian Groin Replacement project will be provided by the state and commercial property owners in Waikiki.
"If the current Royal Hawaiian groin was to fail, it would result in a catastrophic loss of the beach over the course of several months," explained Dolan Eversole, Waikiki Beach management plan coordinator.
The state put in sandbags to temporarily shore up the groin which was built in 1927 between the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Sheraton Waikiki.
"It essentially holds together Waikiki Beach," said Eversole. "It is on the verge of failure. It's showing a lot of signs of imminent failure."
The state just released a draft Environmental Assessment for the project. The goal is to stabilize the beach and maintain the approximate width of the 2012 Waikiki Beach sand replenishment project.
The proposal includes several options for a new groin, including an L or T-head groin that is either 180 feet or 280 feet long.
"What that T does is it allows kind of a break up of the wave energy so the beach will start to form and extend out partway along the groin," said Eversole.
Other options are a vertical concrete wall groin or the re-use of the existing groin as the core of a new L-head groin. Construction could start as early as this winter depending on the approval process. The work is expected to last 60 to 90 days.
The total price tag for the replacement could reach $1.8 million, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The cost will be split between the state and the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association which was created last year to help pay for authorized projects. The group collected $347,000 in the first six months.
"The funding comes from an assessment of all the commercial properties. 7.6 cents per $1,000 assessment," said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association. "Let's say your property is worth a million dollars, you're going to pay $76 dollars a year."
The association will hold informational meetings with stakeholders and community members.
The group is also working on a beach management plan that will include sand replenishment. A two-year University of Hawaii study of the state's 2012 beach nourishment concluded that the project was successful despite ongoing erosion.
"Initially, the beach was widened about 30 feet with the re-nourishment project and today about 20 of that feet remains. Today, it's about 20 feet wider than it was prior to the nourishment project," said Chip Fletcher, associate dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
The report did point out some challenges, including an old foundation that is occasionally exposed due to severe erosion. The heavy trucks used for hauling during the replenishment project also crushed the fragile sand, causing volume loss.