After eight years, Ala Wai bike and walk path reopens

Published: Apr. 27, 2014 at 1:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Eight years after a huge sewage spill in Waikiki shut it down, a popular bike and walk path along the mauka side of the Ala Wai Canal was reopened Saturday.

"This is a path that I would use just about every day before it was closed off," said area resident and bicyclist Robert Ballard.

The path was closed in 2006, after 40 days of rain backlogged the sewer system. The city released millions of gallons of untreated sewage to keep it from coming up toilets in Waikiki.

Since then, the area was used to stage equipment for emergency repairs, which included installing new pipes beneath the Ala Wai Canal. A temporary sewage bypass pipe was also located there.

"There are two pipes now running," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "We have redundancy, we have more capacity. People demand more rooms in Waikiki. If we didn't have the capacity and redundancy we wouldn't be more hotel rooms in Waikiki."

The area has been restored to what it was before: an open space for recreation, especially for walking and bicycling.

"Honolulu, believe it or not, with our beautiful weather and our visitors from all over the world, currently ranks behind Anchorage, Alaska, in terms of bike friendliness," said City Councilman Stanley Chang, who represents the Waikiki area.

"This is beautiful, it's beautifully landscaped," said Jeri El-Swaify of the Hawaii Bicycling League. "If you want to go slow and enjoy the scenery and the beautiful sunshine here in Hawaii, it's the thing to do, right on the Ala Wai."

Besides restoring the bike and walk path, the city has also built a new dog park nearby. It's set to open next month, after utilities and signs are completed.

"It was real nice before," said Ballard. "So we were hoping that it would be returned to its original state, and I think that they've done a nice job of doing that."

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