New, better wall in works at cemetery

Maui Memorial Park is planning to rebuild 153 feet of wall within the next three to four weeks, cemetery officials said this week.

Two weeks ago, a portion of the wall collapsed parallel to Wai’inu Road, which was closed for about six hours while workers cleared debris and shored up the remaining wall. No injuries were reported.

This week, Maui Memorial Park Director of Operations Steven Hawley said the original walls, which were built with river rock and concrete, had a unique but outdated double-wall design.

“The way they did it was they built a lower wall and built another wall on top of it,” Hawley said. “What I was told by the (construction company) is that it’s not really stable because the dirt pushes on it.”

The repaired walls will be built in the same fashion as the walls rebuilt in 2004, after a wall collapse then, Hawley said. The estimated cost of construction is around $250,000.

“The new walls will have an enhanced footing,” he said. “So it’ll have an 18-foot footing that comes out, and the wall is built so the strength is in that footing.”

The Maui Police Department and construction crews from TJ Gomes Trucking were on-site at 8 a.m. Tuesday, with workers removing the concrete vaults that were exposed during the collapse on Dec. 28. The vaults were temporarily removed to begin construction of the new walls.

“We’re grateful that the families were very forgiving,” said General Manager Pat Puana. “They put no fault on us, and we have great families here.”

Hawley and Puana said the vaults will be placed back in their respective spots as soon as possible.

Cemetery officials didn’t know why a portion of the wall collapsed last month, but Puana speculated it could have been the result of decades of wear and tear. The structure was originally built in the 1960s, or before many of the building codes required for modern buildings.

“Back in the ’60s, I don’t know what the (building) coding was,” she said. “But I’m sure it was very lenient.”

Also, vibrations from the steady increase of traffic along Wai’inu Road could be a factor, she said.

“It was never like that before,” Puana said. “But now you have the subdivisions, and it’s like a thoroughfare; everybody uses it.”

During the construction, county inspectors will monitor the operation daily, which includes the testing of concrete and rebar, as well as ensuring the construction is in compliance with building codes and regulations, Hawley and Puana said.

“Everybody is working together,” Puana said. “The county understands this is an emergency request. Our contractor knows this is an emergency request. So everybody is working together.”

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at