Waikiki sidewalk repair is a $5 million challenge

Waikiki sidewalk repair challenges work crews.
Waikiki sidewalk repair challenges work crews.
Steve Baginski
Steve Baginski
Lori Kahikina
Lori Kahikina

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The impact on Waikiki's main street spans large areas of Kalakaua avenue where signs redirect foot traffic and heavy equipment digs into huge sections of sidewalk.

"A lot of the old tile was heaving and breaking," Kaikor Construction Co.  president Steve Baginski said.

The old tiles are being removed and replaced with sturdier stone tiles. The city said so far the job's on pace to finish at the end of September, a month before the APEC summit arrives.

Every day on the job is an adventure in the unforeseen.

"There might be old vault boxes or drain boxes that were buried under the sidewalk that no one knew were even there," Baginski said. "Do you abandon it? Do you fill it? Or do you keep it intact?"

Hurdles require huddles with city engineers to problem solve. The goal is to not let delays slow things down.

"Instead of them having to demobilize and work on another area, everyone gets together immediately and finds an immediate solution to what they encounter." said Lori Kahikina, deputy director of the city's Design and Construction Branch.

Another challenge is convincing shop owners to upgrade their side of the sidewalk to match the city's work. Most of the businesses will do it but a handful have opted out because of cost.

And the work is being done during business hours in the midst of a crowded Waikiki.

"People have to be able to still pass. We've had to divide the job in half, while still providing access to every business by way of temporary ramps," Baginski said

Then there's the eyesore aspect. Pedestrians navigate a curving course of steel barriers from Tony Roma's restaurant to the Hyatt Regency.

The sidewalk project will cost Oahu taxpayers $5.5 million.

Kahikina said the old tiles were a maintenance nightmare and a hazard.  Baginski said the new stone tiles come from Brazil and are better.

"It really has a very nice look, a very rich look about it," he said.

This is just phase one. The second phase of Waikiki's sidewalk reconstruction begins some time after APEC comes and goes.

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