The Hawaii State Department of Transportation issued this media release about a special groundbreaking held at the harbor on Monday:
A groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning by the state Department for Transportation (DOT) for a $55 million Inter-Island Cargo Terminal Facility at Hilo Harbor. The new facility will increase the total amount of harbor space and improve operational safety and efficiency for users.
““Harbors are a vital link to our state,” said Randy Grune, the Deputy Director for Harbors. “We are expanding the Hilo Harbor and this will be a benefit to the County of Hawaii for generations to come.”
The Inter-Island Cargo Terminal Facility will be built in three phases. The $8.1 million first phase will consist of dredging the harbor to accommodate ships that will dock at the future Pier 4. The slope along the shoreline will also be dredged to accommodate the new pier. The proposed dredge area is approximately eight acres and will require about 165,000 cubic yards of material to be removed.
The second phase will be the construction of a $10 million cargo yard scheduled to begin in late 2011 or early 2012. Construction of the $37 million Pier 4 will be the third phase with work set to begin in the summer of 2013. DOT is also planning a road improvements project at Hilo Harbor to relieve traffic congestion in and out of the area.
Currently, the only inter-island cargo pier at Hilo Harbor is Pier 2, which was originally constructed in the early 1920s. Because of its age, modern container handling equipment cannot be fully utilized on the pier. Also, inter-island cargo barges use Pier 2 in the same area where cruise ships operate at Piers 1 and 3.
“This overlap creates safety hazards for passengers and pedestrians and affects the efficiency of cargo operations,” said Grune. “When fuel is being off-loaded at Pier 3, this problem is magnified further as a safety zone must be established, restricting operations in the cargo area. This project will eliminate these problems.”