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The Conversation

Proposed Honolulu Harbor Improvement Plan Would Increase Safety and Efficiency

honolulu_harbor.jpg
Daniel Ramirez
/
Flickr
Honolulu Harbor

The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation is in the process of deciding how to improve Honolulu Harbor, a major lifeline for the state, over the next 30 years or so.

The Honolulu Harbor 2050 Master Plan proposes making the harbor wider and deeper, adding a second entrance, and creating a lock and dam system to combat rising sea levels.

The improvement plan, which could cost more than $1 billion, will reportedly increase efficiency for vessels and better prepare the state for an emergency. The Conversation talked to Derek Chow, deputy director of the department's Harbors Division, about what else is in store for Honolulu's main seaport.

"A majority of all of the cargo that comes into the state of Hawaiʻi first comes into Honolulu Harbor — then some shipped out to the neighbor islands. But the majority of the goods, because of the larger population, does stay on Oʻahu and is delivered out of Honolulu Harbor," Chow said. "We do want to protect our primary harbor. We do want to upgrade it so that it meets future demands. And we certainly want to be able to recover from a storm or prevent experiencing damages when a storm passes."

Chow said most of the improvements will be funded through revenue collected from harbor users and tenants, as well as from possible grants. The harbor does not get a lot of federal funds as highways do, he said.

"We're trying to respond to how the industry is changing their boats, of moving cargo, to increase efficiencies and reduce costs to the consumer ultimately," he said.

There is an upcoming virtual meeting on Aug. 4 if you want to learn more about the drafted plan and provide input.

This interview aired on The Conversation on July 23, 2021.

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