Crews wrap up Nimitz Viaduct clean-up, hauling out 4M pounds of trash
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After nearly a month, the state says it's wrapped up a massive clean-up of entrenched homeless encampments under the Nimitz Viaduct.
Officials said some 4 million pounds of debris and 110 gallons of hazardous waste were removed from the area, during what's being dubbed as the first phase of homeless enforcement in the area.
Workers also filled two 40-foot shipping containers with personal property. In total, the clean-up cost $516,000.
Gov. David Ige also said Tuesday that the state is taking a new approach to keeping the area clear.
"We will be sweeping through regularly and enforcing in this entire area on a more regular basis so the homeless cannot accumulate and reestablish here," Ige said.
Meanwhile, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation recently installed fencing and surveillance cameras to secure the area so it can store construction equipment. The agency is also hiring security guards that will patrol from 6 at night until 6 in the morning.
Despite the new measures, Hawaii News Now cameras captured a woman trespassing and eventually digging her way under the fence.
The state confirms there have been at least two other break-ins.
One instance resulted in a fire that knocked out internet, television and cell phone service to tens of thousands of Oahu customers. Nearby graffiti suggested the blaze was intentionally set.
"We want to make it very clear that breaking the law and destroying private property will not be tolerated," Ige told reporters Tuesday.
Crews kicked off the clean-up Oct. 22, and focused on the area from the Moanalua Bridge to the viaduct off-ramp to Nimitz Highway and nearby waterways.
Before the sweep, the first more than two years, advocates provided outreach to those in the area and sought to convince them to move into shelters.
Meanwhile, the portion of the highway bridge that runs parallel to Mapunapuna is packed with people. Transportation officials say that's where they plan to focus their attention next.
"In the next month we'll be doing the Nimitz Highway bike path," said Jade Butay, state director of transportation.
HART officials say they'll begin to store construction equipment under the viaduct after Thanksgiving.
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