HONOLULU (AP) — Construction crews are slated to start work earlier than scheduled on a replacement groin in Waikiki since fewer people are on the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Construction is scheduled to start Monday on the new 160-foot-long (49-meter-long) groin in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and is expected to take two months to complete.
The $1.5 million project was originally scheduled for the fall, but was moved up because of restrictions on beach activity after Gov. David Ige imposed a statewide stay-at-home order to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The existing groin connected to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel seawall was installed in 1927 to protect the Waikiki beach, but structural engineers have said it is at risk of failing with more than 50% submerged and broken.
Engineers have discovered multiple signs of deterioration including leaking sand, large voids, cracks and the lack of internal reinforcement.
If it fails, erosion could eat away more than 1,700 feet (518 meters) of sandy shoreline on the east side of the groin, where millions of people visit annually.
“This project serves as a critical erosion control measure that will improve the stability of Waikiki Beach but is also an important step towards increased the resilience of Waikiki Beach to coastal hazard events and climate change impacts such as sea-level rise in Waikiki,” Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands Administrator Sam Lemmo told Hawaii News Now.
The DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands is working with the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement Association to complete the project, KHON-TV reported. The district is estimated to pay for half of the project through a special tax assessment.
Crews are expected to begin moving equipment onto the sand next week.