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Arizona Memorial has brand-new parking lot

    A new 171-stall parking lot and bus turnaround at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center has replaced a gravel lot behind the USS?Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Bus passengers waited yesterday at the loading area.

The opening of a $7.4 million parking lot earlier this month represents the last big project in the renovation of the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, officials said.

A new and larger $56 million campuslike visitor center, spread over 17.4 acres, opened last year on Dec. 7, the 69th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The 171-stall lot and bus turnaround took the place of a potholed gravel lot behind the adjacent USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.

"Now it’s much safer, it’s much more organized, it’s got some landscaping," said Tom Fake, the regional project director for the National Park Service.

Before the new lot could be completed, contractors had to deal with a buried Hawaiian Electric juncture contained in a 6-by-8-foot concrete box, some loose fill that created a miniature sinkhole over some water and sewer pipes, and the discovery of old, broken-up asbestos sewer piping.

Three or four truckloads of asbestos pipe and surrounding dirt were removed, said Denise Emsley, a spokeswoman for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii.

Emsley said the visitor center and parking lot are built in an area where the Navy reclaimed shoreline land between the 1920s and 1950s or 1960s by bringing in fill.

The asbestos pipe might have been in the ground for a long time or been brought in as part of the fill material, Emsley said.

"It’s not real uncommon to find stuff like this," Emsley said.

The parking lot was paid for with federal stimulus funds. There are now about 355 parking spaces at the Arizona Memorial, including other lots, a slight reduction from the gravel lot days when more cars would squeeze into undefined spaces, officials said.

The concrete used for the new lot lets water seep through into an underground drain system that keeps runoff with oil and other car contaminants from entering Pearl Harbor, Fake said.

Officials said a couple of minor projects remain, including a covered bus waiting area at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and a city bus shelter on the "U" drive in front of the Arizona visitor center.

City buses made stops at the visitor center before the construction, and will resume the service next Sunday, Fake said.

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