Mayor says HART’s $1 billion projected shortfall, year-long delay unacceptable

Local News

The cost of Honolulu’s rail project is on the rise again and could take longer to complete.

In a letter, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation told the mayor and city councilmembers that the project is facing a $900 million shortfall. HART now believes that number could grow another $200 million, which would mean a shortfall of more than $1 billion.

“I do not want to accept increased costs of $200 million, projected. We need to work hard to not have that happen and I don’t want to see a slippage until 2021,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The five-year tax extension for rail would help the possible billion-dollar shortfall, but the Honolulu City Council still hasn’t voted on it.

The possible delay of the project, from the first quarter of 2020 to 2021, is mainly because HART says it repackaged some contracts for the project. But the mayor points out a full-funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration requires HART to finish the project on time.

“As we looked at the schedule, it does not appear we will be able to finish the project at the 2020 schedule. It’s likely to be 2021,” said HART executive director Dan Grabauskas.

“But the mayor says he’s not going to accept that. So what would it take to still finish by 2020?” KHON2 asked.

“Well, we share the mayor’s concerns on getting the project done on schedule and we have been doing everything we can to stay on schedule and within our revised budget and we’re going to continue to do that,” Grabauskas said.

Grabauskas is analyzing the schedule and how quickly they can do the work. One way would be to close more lanes, but that would affect traffic and, he says, is not realistic at this time.

One change to the schedule HART is considering is when and how it would open the first leg of the project.

Right now, the Kapolei to Aloha Stadium leg is expected to open in three years. But officials are thinking of an interim opening date, which would include the airport, Pearl Harbor, Lagoon Drive and Middle Street stops. It would help thousands of people who work in those areas and could ride rail.

“So guys who work on the west side would be able to ride the train rail and get off at the stations and then get off at Middle Street and hop on buses and ride the rest of the way into town,” Caldwell said.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.