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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sewer lines turn up, delay Kahekili work

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

Aluminum poles line Kahekili Highway where work is finished, but the state will have to use wooden poles for the rest of the project, which had been scheduled to be completed last July but will now take until May.

JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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KAHALU'U A $2.6 million streetlighting project to replace wooden poles with aluminum ones on Kahekili Highway has been delayed and redesigned because of problems with unmapped sewer lines.

The project runs from Ha'iku Road to 'Ahuimanu Place and was originally scheduled to be completed in July of last year. It will now take until May, state officials said.

About half of the project is completed with the new aluminum poles from Ha'iku Road to Hui Iwa (West) Street but the state will have to use wooden poles for the remainder of the project, said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.

"We ran across two unmapped sewer lines last year that would have interfered with the lighting's new electrical system," Ishikawa said.

"So instead of relocating the sewer lines, which would have been costly, we planned to replace existing wooden poles with new ones."

The project began in August 2004, Ishikawa said, but it stalled sometime last summer.

Residents said they have been wondering about the new lights for months because the project appeared to be finished since the contractor was gone.

Ken LeVasseur, a Kahalu'u Neighborhood Board member, said he couldn't understand why the planning process didn't identify the location of the sewer lines with ground-penetrating radar.

The use of wooden poles lowers the standard of the project and means the state spent more than it should have, LeVasseur said.

Ishikawa said someone did drop the ball on pinpointing the sewer lines but he didn't know who.

He said the state chose the best option to resolve the issue. The project shouldn't cost any more than planned and he said it didn't waste state money.

"We apologize for the delay," Ishikawa said.

The redesign involves replacing the existing wooden poles from Hui Iwa (West) to 'Ahuimanu Place with new wooden poles in the same locations, Ishikawa said.

New lighting equipment, mast arms and wiring will be attached to the poles.

A 16-inch force main and an 8-inch gravity sewer line were too close to the location of the aluminum poles, which require a large concrete footing, he said.

The contractor was to restart the project this month, but the continuous rain further delayed the work, according to Ishikawa, who said the contractor is also waiting for the delivery of lighting cables.

The contractor, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., said it didn't have anything to add to Ishikawa's statement.

The DOT maintenance lighting crew replaced the wooden poles, and the contractor will resume work in early April, completing it by the end of May, Ishikawa said.

All of the new lights will be activated at the same time, he said, explaining that the old electrical system wasn't compatible with the new lights and was unable to turn them on.

The delay also affects a chain-link fence installation next to a drainage ditch along the highway abutting Ko'olau Center, according to Ishikawa.

The posts are in the ground, but the fence can't be attached because the wood poles are in the way, Ishikawa said.

In the meantime the contractor has closed the sidewalk for fear that someone could try to cross the drainage ditch, he said

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.