Key progress made in Arizona Memorial access
A more than $2.1 million project to restore walk-on access to the USS Arizona Memorial is getting closer to completion, with a 105-foot floating concrete dock repositioned next to the memorial and a new anchoring system in place beneath it.
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A more than $2.1 million project to restore walk-on access to the USS
Arizona Memorial is getting closer to completion, with a 105-foot floating concrete dock repositioned next to the memorial and a new anchoring system in place beneath it.
A previous anchoring system failed 14 months ago, leading to plenty of frustration among Americans eager to experience the revered sunken battleship memorial up close but only able to catch a glimpse from harbor boat tours.
The National Park Service said the floating dock was put back into place Wednesday. Next up, a contractor will connect a dozen or more heavy-duty synthetic straps between the anchors and the dock and monitor the tension.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt got a close-up view of the memorial May 29 and said he would be disappointed if the repairs weren’t done by October.
“As of now we are currently still on schedule to meet that expectation,” Jay Blount, Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s chief of interpretation, said Thursday. “In the event that we are able to determine a specific date or timeline, we will release that immediately.”
The park service posted an update on the progress on Facebook on
June 28 — and received some criticism in response.
“We visited in October and it was a wonderful experience, but honestly, this has gone on far too long,” said Sharon Goans Liedel. “Get this done … our country deserves better.”
“Still a year later,” said Chuck Bernstein. “They refloated ships faster after Dec. 7.”
But Doris Leeper said, “We visited when it was closed, and we had a fabulous experience with all of the other things that are open. It was a highlight of our trip to Hawaii. For anyone considering a trip, don’t let this deter you.”
Blount said he feels the pain of those who weren’t able to step foot on the Arizona Memorial, one of the state’s most visited tourist attractions. Nearly 1.8 million people visited in 2018.
“We share their frustration. I mean, these people who come here and work, by and large, many of us are veterans. We sign up for this mission because we care about it,” he said.
But Blount also said “there’s been no point since May 2018 when this happened that there’s not been work being conducted” on the sequential repairs that are underway.
“It’s a very complicated process that involves many steps, and it’s not as simple as going out and conducting the work in a few months. It requires a lot of study. We have to follow federal acquisition regulation laws and procedures,” he said.
Still, that frustration has run far and wide. U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono in March asked that the Hawaii congressional delegation receive monthly updates on progress.
Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, GHD Ltd. and Silver Mountain Construction have worked on the project. The park service announced the award of a $2.1 million repair contract in March. Kennedy/Jenks received $65,000 for design work.
The park service said at the time that a project of this scope would normally take three to four years to plan and complete.
Access to the memorial was suspended in May 2018 when park staff noticed minor damage to exterior concrete. Closer inspection of the memorial dock revealed that the root cause was the failure of the dock’s anchoring system, which allowed too much lateral movement by the floating concrete dock where passengers disembarked from Navy boats.
King tides in 2017 are believed to have dislodged heavy concrete blocks sunk into the sediment of Pearl Harbor and connected by chains to the dock.
Instead of risking a repeat, the park service went with more than a dozen big “helical” pilings that were screwed into the seafloor. Some were upward of
100 feet long, Blount said.
“That’s what’s great about these screws: They are not going to get picked up off the bottom of the (sea) floor,” he said.
Crews had to check for unexploded ordnance, and where a couple of anomalies were detected, drill sites were moved, he said.
After the anchor straps are properly tensioned, the loading ramp and 4-ton, 30-foot metal bridge will be reinstalled with the help of Navy floating cranes.
The potential for some remaining delays makes a timeline for reopening difficult to predict, Blount said. There was concern that Tropical Storm Barbara could have an impact.
“There are a lot of variables that we just don’t have control over — the weather being the main one,” he said.