This comes after years of controversy over how the city should handle the stairs.

The City and County of Honolulu has awarded a contract to The Nakoa Companies, Inc., for the removal of Haiku Stairs, a controversial and illegal hiking trail that climbs up the Koolau Range to reveal stunning views of Windward Oahu. 

The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously in 2021 on a resolution urging the mayor to remove the stairs, citing safety concerns and the impact that hikers have on the residential neighborhood where people park to reach the trailhead. Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced he would pursue this plan soon after. 

At the time, the estimated cost of removal was $1 million. The Nakoa Companies’ contract with the city ended up being for a little more than $2.5 million.

The city has allocated about $900,000 from fiscal year 2023 and about $1.6 million from fiscal year 2024 for the removal.

Constructed by the U.S. military during World War II, hikers eventually commandeered the stairs. In 1987, the stairs were officially closed to the public.

The awarding of the contract is the latest step in the stairs’ long and complicated history. 

A procession of mayoral administrations has tried to handle the stairs in different ways, including repairing their dilapidated structure, thinking about managed access solutions and now pursuing their full removal. 

The Friends of Haiku Stairs, an advocacy group dedicated the stairs’ rejuvenation, sued the city in early August, claiming the city did not adequately consider environmental concerns.

A press release issued Tuesday by the Department of Design and Construction says the contract requires Nakoa Construction to take direction from a biologist in order to minimize environmental disruption.  

Blangiardi, meanwhile, said there have been 57 rescues from the stairs’ rugged terrain over the past 15 years, and the proposed managed access plan was not feasible.

The press release did not specify when removal will begin.

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