HART views on-budget airport contract as promising sign for rail

Local News

Rail officials are touting some good news for a change on the cost of the project.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation announced Tuesday that the airport section of the rail project has come in on budget.

The 5.2-mile section stretches from Aloha Stadium to Middle Street and will have four stations.

The contract was awarded to a joint venture of three companies, Shimmick/Traylor/Granite, for $874,750,000 — just under HART’s estimate of $875 million.

HART CEO Dan Grabauskas says he feels they finally have a better sense of the market.

Of course, after this section, from Middle Street forward, the rest of the project is up in the air due to the lack of funds.

“It means that we really do believe that we got a handle on predicting and estimating — not just predicting, but estimating — what the prices of the stations are going to be,” said Grabauskas.

More importantly, Grabauskas adds, it should keep officials with the Federal Transit Administration happy that, as the project moves forward, no additional costs are being added.

The FTA had estimated the cost of the project to fall in the range of $7.7 billion to $8 billion.

“The number of $874 million is actually less than the number that is carried in that range by the FTA, so a very important question is does this number in any way push higher the FTA’s estimate and no, it should keep it where it is or lower,” Grabauskas said.

For now though, funding for rail stands at $6.8 billion, which Grabauskas says could take the rail to Middle Street. Additional money — either from taxpayers, the federal government, or possibly the private sector — will be needed to finish the project all the way to Ala Moana Center. That would require another 4.2 miles of guideway and eight stations, so additional stations, such as City Center and Ala Moana, are in limbo.

“We’ve already told the City Center guideway and stations offers to basically put pencils down so that they’re not doing additional work until we’re able to resolve with some certainty exactly what the next steps will be,” said Grabauskas.

Keep in mind, the actual cost can still change which has happened in past contracts. Records show that there’s been $362 million in change orders on various contracts so far.

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