(Star Advertiser) Reopening of Arizona Memorial moves closer

(Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

  • Video by Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com

    If you’re visiting Pearl Harbor this summer, you won’t get to step inside the USS Arizona Memorial. Repairs resumed Tuesday to restore walk-on access to the sunken battleship memorial.

Twelve new synthetic straps are anchoring the USS Arizona Memorial’s boat landing dock in place, and a contractor has 30 days to adjust the tension, leaving the National Park Service optimistic that the reopening of the iconic memorial to walk-on traffic is getting closer.

“We are pleased with the progress that’s being made, and as I said, we do expect to be open, as we have informed the public, no later than October of this year. But once again, as soon as we have more information and we’re able to set a specific date, we’ll make that public,” said Jay Blount, chief of interpretation and education at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Blount provided a rare media visit to the memorial Monday. The distinctive walkway over the sunken battleship and grave for over 900 men has been closed to foot traffic since May 2018 after the anchoring system for the adjacent 105-foot floating concrete dock was found to be failing.

The dock serves as the disembarkation point for the 4,000 to 5,000 visitors daily who normally spend some time in quiet contemplation on the memorial.

Chains attached to concrete blocks that sat in sediment and may have been dislodged during king tides have been replaced by helical pilings that were screwed into the seafloor — some upward of 100 feet — that are expected to provide a stronger anchor.

While the tension is adjusted — Blount likened it to tuning the strings on a guitar — the park service is using the time to conduct maintenance on the memorial, including fixing its terrazzo tile floor and doing some painting.

“We’re having a contractor replace portions right now of that floor,” Blount said. He also emphasized the visitor center remains open.

“We have two wonderful free museums,” and the Navy is “doing a great job doing harbor tours of Battleship Row,” he said.

A Navy floating crane will be used to reinstall the 30-foot, 4-ton metal bridge that spans the distance between the floating dock and the memorial itself.

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