City hopes artificial turf equates to big savings

City hopes artificial turf equates to big savings
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Love the smell of freshly-cut grass? Well, you might have to get over it.

The city is kicking off a pilot project to replace grass with artificial turf at nine spots on Oahu.

The one-year pilot project starts small. Turf will be installed in traffic medians and roundabouts, not parks. But the project could be a significant first step toward replacing grass across the island with its artificial cousin.

"The pilot project is around 2,100 square feet, and we have three million square feet island wide we maintain," said Eduardo Manglallan, deputy director of the city Department of Facilities Maintenance.

But the pilot could show how much water and manpower turf could save the city.

Zach DeBruyne, vice president of sales NyLawn, which won the $43,000 contract to install the turf, said the grass alternative is "virtually maintenance free."

"The most part would be pulling any weeds that come on the edges," he said.

In addition to those upkeep and irrigation savings, the city will monitor safety in the areas. Manglallan said the nine spots were chosen in part because they needed serious upkeep. Grasses in the area had grown tall, reducing sightlines.

The turf that's being installed is perforated for drainage and doesn't have any crumb rubber. To install it, contractors grade out four inches of earth and replace it with crushed rock.

"It drains really well, more so than your average soil," DeBruyne said.

If the pilot is deemed successful, the city could kick off larger turf installation projects, following in the steps of some mainland cities, including several grappling with drought.

The nine locations for turf installation are:

  • Median fronting Maukalani Elementary
  • Median fronting Wahiawa Elementary
  • Bulb-out at 510 Kihapai St.
  • Median at the intersection of 6th and Kaimuki avenues
  • Roundabout on Heulu Street
  • Median on Lanakila Street
  • Median on Ala Oli Street
  • Roundabout on Kuahaka Street
  • Splitter island on Kipapa Drive

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