City plans big steps to fix aging, broken sidewalks in Chinatown and downtown

If you take a walk through Chinatown and look down, you’ll see sidewalks that have been pushed up by tree roots.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 9:45 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you take a walk through Chinatown and look down, you’ll see sidewalks that have been pushed up by tree roots.

There are cracks everywhere. There are even areas where trees once were that are now large patches of dirt.

You can even find a traffic cone on the sidewalk at Pauahi Street. It’s unknown what it covers, but it is bolted down.

“For one thing this marvelous traffic cone here has been bolted to our sidewalk next to our building for ten years, and if part of repairs means that cone goes away, that would be fantastic,” said Oren Schleiman, who’s part of the Chinatown Watch group.

“It’s years worth of backlog, and you’re right, the businesses downtown and in Chinatown recognize more than the rest of us know that this work is critically needed,” said Ian Scheuring, a spokesperson with the mayor’s office.

The city is finally tackling that backlog. Starting Monday, crews will start doing sidewalk repairs in a large area headed mauka from Nimitz Highway to Vineyard Boulevard, and between River and Richards Streets.

The work is good news for Honolulu City Councilmember Tyler Dos Santos-Tam.

“The merchants, the residents, they’ve been through so much between COVID, homelessness, crime. So to finally see some improvement is exciting, but we want to make sure it’s not disruptive,” he said.

Dos Santos-Tam visited merchants who said they weren’t aware of the upcoming project, in which work will be done weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. -- prime time for Chinatown businesses.

Some on-street parking will be prohibited, and drivers have been told to expect delays.

The city promises to keep the repair crews on the move, and that businesses will get a two-week notice before work begins in their area.

“It might be painful for a couple of days. We don’t expect to linger longer than that in front of any individual businesses,” said Scheuring. “It doesn’t take weeks to repair a sidewalk in front of one business.”

For many, the work can’t begin soon enough.

“If they can take little things and build on them to get bigger things, but do it quickly, as opposed to taking tow more years, that would be great,” said Schleiman.

The repair work is expected to last until August.