HART terminates $63 million rail contract, could cost taxpayers

A $63 million rail contract will be canceled over a conflict of interest. It’s an issue that could end up costing taxpayers.

Always Investigating has been keeping tabs on unresolved cost and oversight questions for rail.

Late Wednesday, we found out a multimillion-dollar contract is getting the ax, all because two companies, AECOM and URS, merged last fall.

Both have rail contracts with URS paid $63 million to watch over the $99 million in various jobs AECOM is doing, including designing some rail stations and guideway sections.

That merger caused an instant conflict of interest, like a fox watching a henhouse, so the rail authority wanted to know how URS could keep doing the oversight job.

Always Investigating got a copy of a letter the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation sent this week to URS saying URS’ proposed “cure” of the conflict wasn’t good enough.

Now HART will be putting the job out to bid again and URS will have to stop work and stop getting paid, but not until the new contractor is in place.

HART officials say they’ve already paid URS about $6 million.  They say they hope the replacement job could cost the same or possibly even less than rest of the terminated contract.

Since it’s a professional service and not a construction job, they hope the same cost hikes they’ve seen on the building bids won’t come into play as much here.

HART expects it will take at least a couple months to get a new company on the job.

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