By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The sewer rehabilitation project along Kalanianaole Avenue in Hilo has progressed to its second phase, leaving businesses that were impacted by the first phase breathing sighs of relief.
The $7.5 million repairs got under way in September, with Isemoto Contracting Co. beginning to slipline about 4,800 feet of new pipe between Keaa Street and Baker Avenue.
The work remains on schedule, said Lyle Hirota, deputy division chief for the County of Hawaii’s Environmental Management Wastewater Division. The second of two phases began this week, closing off one lane of traffic between Kuhio Street and Baker Avenue.
“We’re looking at somewhere around early January before we finish the section between Kuhio and Baker,” he said. “Overall, the project is set to be complete around mid-April, tentatively.”
Once work on the second phase of the sewer repairs is complete, workers will go back and complete repaving and other tasks on both phases. The first phase closed off a lane of traffic from Keaa to Baker Avenue.
“We still need to go back at some stage to finish up some of the work. The new piping is already in for that section, but there’s still some cleanup work to do,” Hirota said.
Bill Wilson, the general manager of Kamaaina Nissan, said his dealership had definitely seen a dropoff in business due to the 10 weeks or so of sewer maintenance work that closed off traffic in front of the location. But, he said, that was to be expected.
“Any time you have a change in traffic flow, that’s always a concern with the businesses. We voiced our concerns with the county, and Isemoto did a wonderful job in working with us.”
Wilson said workers were helpful in staggering their work hours so as to have as little an impact as possible on area businesses. Even so, the car dealer had to take a “proactive approach” to helping its customers get in an out, by putting up signs in front of the business, as well as a traffic warning on its website.
Meanwhile, Zhuokun Wong, owner of Ocean Front Kitchen LLC, said his Chinese restaurant had seen a dropoff of between 30 and 40 percent due to the sewer work.
He said it was hard for customers to find him, and that “by the time they approved for us to put some signs up around the corner, the work was almost over.”
Luckily, he said, now that the traffic detours have moved further down the street, “my business is back to normal.”
The existing concrete sewer pipe, which ranges in size from 36-48 inches in diameter, has reached the end of its life expectancy due to deterioration from sewer gas, Hirota said. The pipe is estimated to have been put in place in the 1960s.
The new fiberglass pipe, which is slightly smaller, between 42 and 34 inches, is being pushed and pulled through the existing pipe.
Capacity is not expected to be an issue for the new pipe, as the new material produces less friction.
Email Colin M. Stewart at email@example.com.