HONOLULU (KHON2) — Staff and costly overhead are being slashed at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) as the new head of the Rail Authority weeds through what she says are some redundant and inflated costs.

Major changes are also ahead for one of the most complicated stretches of the Honolulu Rail project.

HART interim executive director and CEO Lori Kahikina told Always Investigating on Wednesday, March 3, that she is going through every position — consultants and City staff — to let them know by the end of March whether their position will be retained.

“There’s high anxiety here,” said Kahikina. “There’s high anxiety, even for the city staff, everyone is on a personal services contract.”

Kahikina said, she is making the changes for the benefit of taxpayers.

“How can I possibly go out there to try and ask for funds when we’re being inefficient ourselves? We’re wasting funds,” Kahikina said. “We’re being redundant. We’re being inefficient. It’s not fair. So just try as the principal, I’m just trying to show that we’re trying to make good changes and good decisions on behalf of the taxpayers.”

HART has a monthly operating cost of about $12 million and employs more than 130 individuals. Kahikina is reviewing everything, which includes cutting the government relations and public involvement staff by 50% and merging the divisions under former councilman Joey Manahan.

Kahikina is also spearheading major changes on the capital side, including stopping a Dillingham utility relocation contract that had ballooned to $650 million. A section will be shifted mauka to take the columns out of the middle of the road instead, eliminating dual trenching.

Negations with some major landholders along that mauka section of the route still need to be resolved, however.