The good news is that federal stimulus dollars are helping to foot a share of a major sewer line replacement project in Waimalu, Hawaii, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.

The bad news is the project will likely cause at least some traffic headaches for Pearl City-‘Aiea commuters over the next 27 months.

The city obtained $7,438,075 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health that will go toward the $45 million project, which began recently and is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2011.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the city would have proceeded with the project along the same timetable anyway, but said the federal contribution will free up money for other infrastructure projects.

Thomas Arizumi, chief of the Health Department’s Environmental Management Division, said the project is the first wastewater project in the state to use federal stimulus money.

About 5,820 linear feet of defective sewer lines are being replaced. An additional 630 linear feet of new sewer line will also be installed, including a line crossing beneath Kamehameha Highway using a trenchless, micro-tunneling method.

Craig Nishimura, city director of design and construction, acknowledged that the project will affect traffic. But micro-tunneling beneath the busy section of Kamehameha Highway fronting Waimalu Shopping Center should minimize disruption there, Nishimura said.

“We would like to ask the public to be patient with us,” he said.

The affected area is immediately mauka of Waimalu Shopping Center. Affected streets include Hekaha, Kanuku, Pahemo and Lokowai streets, ‘Olepe Loop and Li’i Ipo Street.

State Rep. K. Mark Takai, D-34th (Newton, Waiau, Pearl City), said he drives along that route from his Newtown home to get to H-1 Freeway.

Many of the area’s pipes are more than 50 years old and are in poor condition because of ground settlement problems. Nishimura and several area politicians said the Waimalu Tract neighborhood has been vulnerable to flooding during heavy rains.

“A lot of the pipes have been sinking, a lot of the pipes have cracked. There’s a lot of water infiltrating into the system, which has been causing sewer spills every time it rains,” Nishimura said. “This project will be replacing a lot of those lines with better pipe material.”

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

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