Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Details of undergrounding of power lines into Waikiki

by Larry Geller

I promised in yesterday’s article (APEC improvements merely cosmetic…, 5/17/2011) to track down the cost of the undergrounding of power lines from Ala Moana to Waikiki. I couldn’t find the info on the web, so I called the state Department of Transportation.

In mere minutes they sent me the information.  Very helpful, and very refreshing. They offered to send more, but I think this answers the question very nicely.  I’ll just reproduce part of the email:

Project Title:
Nimitz Highway and Ala Moana Boulevard Resurfacing and Highway Lighting Replacement, Fort Street to Kalakaua Avenue

Goodfellow Bros., Inc.

Project Details: 
·        Major improvements, pavement resurfacing and beautification on Nimitz Hwy. and Ala Moana Blvd. from Fort St. in Downtown to Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki. 
·        Project will relocate all electrical and telephone wires underground and remove all wiring support poles. 
·        New, attractive street lighting fixtures will be installed from the Ala Wai Canal to Fort St. giving the entire corridor a consistent and nostalgic look. 
·        Ala Moana Blvd. pavement resurfacing will also be done from Piikoi St. to Holomoana St. on the Waikiki-side of Ala Wai Canal.
·        Other work includes curb, sidewalk, gutter and bus pad reconstruction at various locations.

Work Schedule:
Project began in late February at Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki and will work westward to Fort St. in Downtown in five construction phases.

Area 1:  Kalakaua Ave. to Ala Wai Canal, Feb. to Sept. 2011
Area 2:  Ala Wai Canal to Queen St., Feb. to Sept. 2011
Area 3:  Queen St. to Cooke St., Mar. 2011 to Apr. 2012
Area 4:  Cooke St. to Aloha Tower, Aug. 2011 to Jan. 2012
Area 5:  Aloha Tower to Fort St., Jun. 2011 to May 2012

Most work will be done during nighttime hours to minimize traffic impacts.  Work hours will be on Sunday nights through Friday mornings, 7 PM to 6:30 AM, nightly.  Limited work will also be done during daytime hours when necessary on Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 3 PM.

Project Cost:
Total:                 $36,998,000.00.
Federal:        (73%)
State:                 (20%)
Other:                (7%), "Other" includes share paid by utility companies.

The total cost of the contract is $36,998,000.00.

So the state share (20%) is $7,399,600. That’s still a good bit of change, but it did bring in a huge hunk of federal money with it. Kind of a stimulus?

Ok, now if we want to underground some lines in Kalihi—what are the chances?

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.


Thanks for following up on this, Larry. Any chance of pictures?

Even if this is for tourists and the APEC visitors, it is hard to argue against it when 70% of the funds are federal. Thre is definitely a shot of money into the local economy. And undergrounding wires is a public good.

I attended a legislative hearing a few years ago, waiting to testify on a particular bill. Also being heard was a bill supported by the Outdoor Circle, simply asking for a study on the costs and benefits of beginning an program of undergrounding powerlines. After leaving the meeting, wherever I went, I paid attention to areas where powerlines detracted from the natural beauty of our daily lives, also noticing which areas already have underground wiring.

FOrgive my bias, but I'm a windward boy. I happen to think the Koolaus, from Olomana to Kuuloa offer some of the most breath-taking scenery in the entire state. (Sorry Kauai) BUt in many Kaneohe neighborhoods, the vista is ruined by powerlines and transformers destroying the view much like graffiti can destroy the looks of a building. Graffiti is illegal, but HECO refuses to even discuss undergrounding? WTH?

Like it or not, tourism is the economic engine of our society. So undergrounding wiring near tourist centers may make sense as a priority. But both tourists and residents drive through a lot of areas where the natural beauty is undermined by unsightly powerlines.

For those who read this, try to do what I did. As you drive around, consciously pay attention to the powerlines and then imagine how things would look if they were underground. The quality of life for Hawaii residents would improve considerably.

Kalihi will get underground as soon as the ocean rises due to global warming. Buy your beach front Kalihi property now!

Yup, Waikiki has to be kept beautiful, no argument. Especially with federal money, that's easy to agree to.

I wonder how much the tourist industry kicks in, overall, to maintain their pristine environment? Some portion of tourist money goes right out of state. I hope they are investing in Hawaii. This is not an area I know much about.

As to the rest of our island, driving around Kalihi (just as an example), there are potholes, crosswalks unpainted, overhead wires, of course, and other signs of neglect. Like non-working pedestrian crossing buttons.

You asked for some pictures. Next post. Good idea.

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