The largest beach restoration project in Hawaii’s history is taking shape at Iroquois Point in Ewa Beach with the construction of nine T-shaped groins that are being built with 2,000 truckloads of rock.
The $14 million project is being underwritten by Texas-based Hunt Companies, which last year sold the rental community known as The Waterfront at Puuloa to San Francisco-based Carmel Partners for $311 million.
“The project was absolutely something we were committed to,” said Thomas Lee, vice president of development for Hunt’s Hawaii region. “We had three public comment periods during the permitting process and absolutely no complaints.”
So far, six of the nine T-groins have been finished. Sea Engineering, Inc., which came up with the design, says the structures have been used successfully in Florida and the Gulf Coast for the past two decades.
“Basically, we create cells where the sand is trapped, and the T-groin is the most effective at doing that,” said Scott Sullivan, vice president of Sea Engineering.
Construction of the T-groins requires the use of 35-ton cranes that must ride on top of the groins as they’re being built. Some of the boulders used to create the structures weigh as much as two tons.
“There's a specific way we want them to be piled; we want them to be interlocked,” said Sullivan. “It's quite a skill and these operators have really risen to the challenge.”
Old photos show the shoreline at Iroquois Point has receded drastically in the past eight decades. From 1928 to 1961, 130 feet of beach was lost. Then from 1961 to 2003, an additional 150 feet disappeared. It got so bad that 16 beachfront homes had to be demolished.
“In the last couple of years we've really seen the beach erosion accelerate,” Lee told KITV4. “We've lost about 19 to 20 coconut tress just in the past year-and-a-half, in addition to a lot of beach amenities.”
Once all of the T-groins are built, Sea Engineering will add 85,000 cubic yards of sand that was dredged from the entrance of Pearl Harbor. Most of the sand had come from the beach at Iroquois Point.
“Once we put the sand fill between the groins, they're going to have a 50 to a 100 foot wide beach,” said Sullivan. “it's going to be a wonderful swimming area, (and) we expect more marine life to start to colonizing the rock structures.”
Residents of the 1,450 unit rental community that encompasses Iroquois Point have been kept away from large portions of the beach as construction of the T-groins continue, however most see it as a temporary setback, and are looking forward to the finished product later this summer.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing they’re doing here,” said Harold Maeha, who has lived at Puuloa for the past six months. “Everybody is happy (and) all my neighbors are happy. In fact, I got new neighbors who just came in; they're so stoked about this they cannot wait. They like have one barbeque already with us.”