Big fix in the works for Pearl Harbor trail — Once complete, a city official envisions “one of the best bike rides or walks in the world”

(Via Star Advertiser)

City officials are proposing several short- and long-term projects to revitalize the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail after residents expressed concerns with improving the trail’s safety and infrastructure.

Short-term projects proposed at a Tuesday meeting included installing cultural signs and markers, planting more shade trees, re-striping crosswalks and adding seating areas and fountains. Removing mangroves in the area, improving safety, developing retail shops along the trail and adding play areas were some proposed long-term goals.

City Councilman Brandon Elefante, who represents Aiea, Pearl City and Waipahu, is spearheading the effort, along with other area legislators to relaunch the master plan developed in 2001 that called for an 18-mile trail to run along the old Oahu Railway & Land Co. corridor. Residents envisioned that the trail would connect neighborhoods from Nanakuli to Aiea to recreation areas and historic sites, as well as serve as an economic engine.

He said the Council budgeted about $1 million in funding for the trail.

“Our hope is that we keep that vision alive among all stakeholders,” said Elefante, who held the Tuesday meeting at Pearl Ridge Elementary School to follow up with residents’ concerns and suggestions. A meeting in July with about 100 people in attendance sought to gather public input.

“There’s only so much that the city or the state can do,” Elefante said. “It would be great to see a solid community group coming together and joining in the effort to revitalize it and really take ownership of it.”

Aiea and Pearl City residents sought to revitalize the shoreline, which currently features a city-run bike path, with safer pathways, boat tours and wildlife preservation, among other things.

“This (project) kind of started in Aiea and Pearl City, but we’ve got a lot of things along the trail,” said Claire Tamamoto, president of the Aiea Community Association. “We’re hoping that as we set up a positive demonstration project, the projects will continue, and other communities will get excited and they will identify their areas (that they want to highlight).”

Elefante said he will work with the state to address the homeless encampment along the trail, which was a frustration several residents expressed at the July meeting. In August, 11 social service agencies offered job, medical and other assistance to about 30 homeless people living in tents and under tarps around Neal S. Blaisdell Park.

“We hope that by also enhancing and beautifying some of the trail areas where the homeless folks are currently living that that would clear out those areas … and from that we can work with the homeless folks and get them situated into housing and get them the help that they need,” Elefante said.

PLANS are also moving forward for the Leeward Bikeway, which would extend the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail path to Nanakuli. The project is slated to go out for bid next summer, with construction to start in 2017, said the state Department of Transportation. Work would take about 18 months, provided all environmental clearances are completed by then.

Mark Garrity, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation Services, said at Tuesday’s meeting that officials aim to improve a portion of the trail from next to Pearl Kai Shopping Center to near Best Buy in Aiea.

Project features could include a 12-foot-wide concrete path, seating areas, lighting and cultural and historic markers. The project would cost about $1.2 million.

Harrison Rue, the city’s transit-oriented development, or TOD, administrator, pointed out that the trail is near several rail stations.

“This trail effort is one critical part in a larger strategy to make it more walkable and interesting along the TOD area,” Rue said. He described the trail as “one of the best bike rides or walks in the world once it’s done.”

To view the 2001 master plan, visit 808ne.ws/1HPsPF0.

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