Office of the Mayor

City announces commencement of project to remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs

File photo showing a portion of the Haʻikū Stairs
File photo showing a portion of the Haʻikū Stairs

O‘AHU – The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and project contractor The Nakoa Companies Inc. announced Wednesday that preparatory work on the Ha‘ikū Stairs removal project has officially begun, with the removal of more than 600 stair modules scheduled to start later this month.

A ho‘omaikai‘i (blessing) ceremony was performed Wednesday morning by Kawaikapu Frank Hewett to bless the workers who will be undertaking this important project and mark the project’s official start, and The Nakoa Companies Inc. is already conducting preliminary assessments of the stair modules prior to their removal.

The Ha‘ikū Stairs were built by the U.S. military during World War II and have been officially closed to the public since 1987. With work on the removal project now officially underway, the City and County of Honolulu is warning anyone who ignores posted “No Trespassing” signs that the stairway is now an active work site and should be considered extremely dangerous. While the actual removal of stairway modules will not begin until later this month, the modules are being prepared for removal and present an immediate safety threat for anyone trespassing along the trail.

The decision to remove the Haʻikū Stairscame after much collaborative deliberation and discussion with the community and the Honolulu City Council. In 2021, the Council voted unanimously in support of Resolution 21-154, urging the City administration to remove the stairs. The removal project prioritizes public safety, seeks to stop illegal trespassing on the stairs and nearby neighbors who have dealt with decades of disruptions and disturbances, addresses significant liability for the city, preserves the natural beauty and condition of the area and improves the quality of life for neighborhood residents in the area.

Photo of Haʻikū Stairs blessing ceremony at Omega Station.

As part of the Ha‘ikū Stairs removal project, The Nakoa Companies Inc. will remove the aging, narrow metal stair structure while ensuring the preservation of associated structures. The contract requires The Nakoa Companies, Inc. to contract with and take direction from a biologist, who will evaluate each section of the stairs prior to and following removal in order to protect native species and prevent erosion.

The Nakoa Companies, Inc. will also be responsible for re-vegetating impacted areas with native plants where necessary, helping protect the surrounding environment while honoring the historical significance of the site.

“This was a decision, when we came into office, that was long overdue. Over the course of many months, in meeting with the people involved and the discovery that we put into it, I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision,” Mayor Rick Blangiardi said during Wednesday’s announcement. “This decision that was made was predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our ʻāina, and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Haʻikū community.”  

“The Nakoa Companies Inc. is proud that we have been selected as the contractor for this project. Our longstanding partnership and successful collaboration on previous projects with the City & County of Honolulu fill us with immense pride. At our core, safety remains our paramount priority, along with a steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Austin Nakoa, President of The Nakoa Companies Inc.

The total contract amount allocated for the Ha‘ikū Stairs removal project, including the base amount and contingencies, is $2,579,771.88, which will be funded using operating funds from two separate fiscal years, FY23 ($969,326.07) and FY24 ($1,610,445.81).

The project is expected to take at least six months. The public is further advised that the Ha‘ikū Stairs area is a currently a construction zone, with access restricted to authorized personnel only.

The Department of Design and Construction will work closely with The Nakoa Companies Inc. to ensure effective coordination, minimizing disruptions to the community while prioritizing public safety.


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