Federal and state officials broke ground last week on a federally funded project to repair a crumbling cargo pier at Honolulu, six months after it won a $24.5 million grant from the Department of Transportation's "TIGER" grant pool.
Maritime Administrator David Matsuda joined Gov. Linda Lingle and Sen. Daniel Inouye at the event to launch the Pier 29 project, which will rip out a tattered infrastructure to rebuild it and restore 12 acres for cargo operations at Honolulu.
Local reports said the pier's pavement crumbled in 2008 after Aloha Cargo Transport began handling containers coming into the port from the Pacific Northwest. Earlier, Pier 29 had been used for automobile shipments but the heavier container equipment was too much for it. Aloha transferred operations to other areas of the port, and Pier 29 has been mostly unusable since then.
The repairs are expected to cost $29 million in all; state officials said without the federal aid they might not have been able to meet their various construction needs. The federal portion was among 51 projects nationwide the U.S. DOT said Feb. 17 it would support, out of a $1.5 billion multi-modal grant account.
For Hawaii, the effects of the $24.5 million grant go beyond the Pier 29 work, by allowing transportation planners to shift state money from it to other needs in a multi-year plan for various harbors. "This grant opens up funds and enables us to move forward with other Harbors Modernization (Plan) projects that we might otherwise not have been able to afford at this time," said Brennan Morioka, director of the state DOT.
Last month, federal officials targeted Pier 29 as one of the pending projects they wanted to get moving in what they call the "summer of stimulus."
The federal and state DOTs did not stay completely on message, however. The latest federal announcement said "work began in earnest" with the Aug. 20 ground-breaking, while the state said construction is expected to start in November. Likewise, federal officials project the pier to reopen in December 2011, but the state looks for work to wrap up by February 2012.
What they agree on is that it will increase Honolulu Harbor's cargo capacity and efficiency. Besides replacing the pavement with a harder surface, the work will build in new drainage, water, sewer, lighting, electrical and fire protection systems.
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