The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s plan to save money on the over-budget rail project is leading to even longer delays.

KHON2 has learned that a contractor hoping to get part of the work is fighting the decision to give it to another company.

HART initially wanted separate contracts to build each of the first nine rail stations on Oahu. But plans were scrapped last year when the bids came in much higher than expected.

So to save money, HART combined the jobs. Companies bid on a contract covering multiple rail stations along Farrington Highway.

“But there was a bid protest by the second lowest bidder,” said HART executive director Dan Grabauskas.

HART denied the contractor’s protest and the bidder filed an appeal with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs this week.

“So the good news is that they’ve got to make a decision within 45 days, but the bad news is we’ve already lost a month of time when we wanted to award and now we’re going to lose another month and a half,” he said.

And that’s not the only delay.

KHON2 looked at the monthly report by the Federal Transit Administration consultant who’s overseeing rail, and learned the contract for part of the first segment, West Oahu/Farrington Highway, is four months behind. Part of the second segment, the Kamehameha Highway guideway, is seven months behind, and then there’s the previously mentioned delay for the three Farrington Highway stations.

“Unfortunately, these three stations are really critical to keep us on schedule and the fact that we’re going to end up losing minimum of two and a half months is not good news,” Grabauskas said.

While HART deals with the not-so-good news of schedule delays, it must also come up with a new financial plan.

Taxes collected for rail are well below expectations. While the tax revenue for rail was about $9 million above projections for this past quarter, and even though HART has collected nearly $1.47 billion in local revenue, overall funding is still $30 million below projections.

So officials will need to address the shortfall and come up with alternate funding in an updated plan, which is due to the FTA this summer.

“It’s going to end up being the future contracts that we’re really going to focus on and that’s really going to be where you’ll see the numbers change in our finance plan, because we are going to see a projected increase in the overall cost for the project,” Grabauskas said.