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State briefs for April 14

Tourism halt allows construction projects to proceed

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s tourism lockdown created an opportunity for the start of about a half-dozen construction projects in the state’s most economically important area.

Planned projects in Waikiki include shoring up the area’s famed beaches.

The tourism collapse that followed the drop in visitors to Oahu from reduced travel demand and coronavirus restrictions are providing an unprecedented chance for the improvements while the Honolulu area is not overflowing with people.

On a typical day in Waikiki before the coronavirus outbreak, there were about 88,000 tourists, 28,000 workers and 25,000 residents. Only 1,690 visitors have arrived on Oahu since March 26, when Gov. David Ige imposed a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for trans-Pacific passengers.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources gave Kiewit Construction approval to proceed on a roughly $2 million replacement of the structure erected in the 1920s to protect coastline buildings and create the sandy beach that made Waikiki famous.

The Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association partnered with the state on the replacement project and hopes to begin a $2 million sand replacement at the man-made beach.

An environmental impact statement for a $10 million Waikiki Beach Master Plan also is underway.

The state also started dredging Ala Wai Canal and restoring the canal’s wall. Honolulu workers were scheduled to begin intersection repaving work Monday, and work is ongoing at Centennial Park.

Child care providers struggle amid outbreak

HONOLULU — Hawaii was not fully meeting the large demand for affordable child care before the coronavirus outbreak. But many providers are now struggling with a severe decrease in business and unsure if they will reopen after the health emergency passes.

Hawaii asked the federal government to allow parents to use subsidies at more than one child care provider since Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order took effect March 25.

A 2017 study by the University of Hawaii’s Center on the Family found that demand for child care in the state greatly exceeded supply. Although 64% of children of working parents need care, providers regulated by the state Department of Human Service could only serve 25% of them.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, the federal government allocated about $11.3 million for child care subsidies to the state. But it is not yet clear who will receive the money.

The “child care industry is very fragile,” said Deborah Zysman, executive director of Hawaii Children’s Action Network. “A lot of people are very concerned that this crisis is going to just bankrupt some and force them to close, and they won’t reopen.”
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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