$2.5M plan will widen beach in Waikīkī
By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
The state is moving forward with a $2.5 million plan to pump offshore sand onto disappearing stretches of Waikīkī Beach, widening the beach by about 37 feet on average.
Officials said the project is on track to go out to bid in August and start in early 2011.
The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comments through this month on the "sand replenishment" work as part of the permit process. The only other hurdle is an environmental assessment, which is expected to find no significant impact.
The project would be the first sand replenishment work in Waikīkī since 2007 and is considered novel for two reasons: It's the first time the state has teamed up with a Waikīkī hotel to restore the beach, and it includes a maintenance plan to stave off future erosion.
Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts has committed $500,000 for the initial project, and the state is looking to partner with the Waikīkī Business Improvement District to set up a fund for future sand replenishment maintenance work, a fund that will tap both public and private dollars.
The state is putting up about $2 million for the initial project.
Sam Lemmo, administrator of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the state incorporated a maintenance plan into the permit applications so new permits would not be needed for future sand pumping in the project area.
He said, though, that new environmental assessments might be needed.
"What we're doing is we're planning for the future," Lemmo said. "Hopefully, if the permitting were to go correctly, this would actually grant us approval to come back in five or seven years" to pump in more sand. Ordinarily, the permitting process can take a year or more.
The initial project area extends along 1,700 feet of shoreline, from the Royal Hawaiian Beach groin to the Kūhiō Beach groin.
Crews will dredge up about 24,000 cubic yards of sand from two sites offshore and pump it onto sections of the beach.
The work is expected to last about 90 days.
As part of the project, the state will remove two "derelict" rock groins.
There's no debate that portions of Waikīkī Beach are overdue for restoral. Waikīkī has been "chronically eroding" for decades at a rate of 1 1/4 feet a year, the state said. In places, the beach is nonexistent at high tide.
The most recent effort to tackle the Waikīkī Beach erosion was a $475,000 demonstration project that the state completed in January 2007, pumping in 9,500 cubic yards of offshore sand.
That project is supposed to be repeated by 2012.
The state sand replenishment work comes as Kyo-ya is also planning its own project to create a sandy beach in front of its Sheraton Waikiki hotel, where a beach is now visible only during very low tide.
The Sheraton is seeking permits to pump sand onto Gray's Beach and build three T-shaped rock groins in the water to keep the sand in place.
That project is expected to cost $3 million to $4 million.