Finishing touches going on airport improvements for APEC

Published: Nov. 1, 2011 at 10:45 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 1, 2011 at 11:02 PM HST
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Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Four improvement projects at the Honolulu International Airport are nearly complete just in time for APEC.  Governor Neil Abercrombie insists the $7 million worth of new renovations were not because of APEC however the conference did motivate them to get the work done faster.

Governor Abercrombie walked through the new international arrivals section just like many of the APEC attendees will do next week.  He saw the new signage, an artistic new ceiling with an ocean feel, an outdoor rock garden in the breezeway and the new Hawaiian compass in the floor.  It not only looks better than before but it's also safer.

"Each and every aspect of this airport is going to be brought up to the most contemporary standard," said Governor Abercrombie.  "When things are dilapidated, when things have deteriorated, I used to count the days and weeks and months the escalators weren't fixed. That's not happening anymore."

"It just looks newer and fresher now," said Diana Schuman, who flew in from Japan.

"It looks nicer unless the carpet is dirty but it's nice. It's clean," said Erma Tangoan, who flew in from the Philippines.

The governor did not walk by the rest of the airport where there were leaks nearly as far as the eye can see along with cracks in the concrete and paint peeling away.

"Some of those are long term fixes. The leaks, it's not an easy thing we can't just put a tent over the airport and say we're done. We have to find the leaks. We're talking about an infrastructure that was built in the 1970's," said Dan Meisenzahl, Department of Transportation Spokesperson.

An elevator near Customs is now covered and blocked off.  It's been broken nearly two years.  It would take 10 percent of the elevator budget to fix which is why it will not be repaired.  However the elevator next to it is now working properly.

Now that the international work is done the state will be moving on to the rest of the airport.  They plan to add more money and workers to the maintenance crews in order to fix equipment faster.  The Department of Transportation plans to increase the elevator and escalator maintenance budget from $800,000 to $3 million a year. They also want to hire eight full time mechanics, up from just two mechanics with two helpers.

Ask passengers and they say it's about time.

"It's just an old airport. It could use some work," said Mike Alonzo, traveler.

"It's just a little run down I was just commenting that this board over here has nothing. I don't know how long it's been broke but it looks run down compared to Seattle where I'm from," said Monica Pak, traveler.

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