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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dock fails at Big Island harbor

By Carolyn Lucas
West Hawaii Today

A loading dock in the makai boat launch ramp at Honokōhau Small Boat Harbor collapsed Sunday after deteriorating heavily.

About half of the center finger pier, built about 30 years ago, fell into the water, said Ed Underwood, administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

The area was immediately cordoned off and closed after the incident. No injuries and no vessel damage were reported. Division of Boating Hawai'i District Manager Nancy Murphy was able to contact and hire Kailua, Kona-based contractor Pineapple Custom, which began removing the debris Monday, Underwood said.

Once the failed portion of the pier is removed, the boat launch ramp will reopen to the public at least temporarily, Underwood said Monday.

"This dock was old, beyond useful and considered a top priority in regard to needed harbor improvements," he said. "It was simply reaching the time when it needed to be replaced, not repaired. When the pier was built, engineers used highway technology. Specialized marine construction and materials did not exist at the time.

"The good news is the project to replace a portion of this pier already went out to bid. We will have to make the proper adjustments to the bid. Still, we expect to award the contract in mid-June. Once construction on this project starts, we will have to close the ramp again."

The state is seeking construction bids on the first phase of Honokōhau Harbor improvements, estimated to cost $840,000. Work includes replacing a portion of a pre-cast concrete pier and cast-in-place concrete approach ramp for one of the boat ramp sites, as well as improving the waterline and electrical lighting system. Bidding is scheduled to close June 9.