City picks rail car company

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Italy, famous for its food, architecture, and art can apparently build a pretty good train too.

The city has awarded two more contracts for its rail transit project. One of those contracts goes to an Italian firm which will build the rail cars.

"Congratulations to Ansaldo Honolulu, a joint venture of Ansaldo STS and Ansaldo Breda, for being awarded the contract for the rail project's core systems," Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said.

The core systems include the train vehicles and the system control center. Ansaldo, founded more than 150 years ago, has done similar work around the world.

The contract calls for the city to pay Ansaldo $574 million for 80 train cars and the control center. That is $218-million less than the city projected those items would cost.

The second contract announced Monday will cover construction of the elevated guideway, installation of train tracks, and road restoration along phase two of the project from Pearl City to Aloha Stadium. The 3.9 mile segment will be built by Kiewit Infrastructure West Company at a cost of $372-million. That is $53 million more than the city had estimated.

Combine these two contracts with two previously announced contracts and Carlisle said taxpayers will be paying $315-million less than had been anticipated.

"This contributes significantly to the confidence and stability of our financial plan. That is news that they are going to look at in Washington DC and be very very impressed that we are in fact on time and under budget in terms of where we're expecting to go," Carlisle said.

Despite the savings, Carlisle is not ready to subtract the $315 million from the overall projected cost of the project which would reduce estimated cost from $5.5 billion to $5.2 billion.

"We're not at the end yet. OK remember, we did have one that came in over bid. And considering the problems we've got with fuel and those types of issues that are coming in the future those are issues we are going to have to worry about as well," Carlisle said.

Whatever the eventual cost, the project means jobs for Hawaii's ailing construction industry.

"Our union is currently 50% unemployed and has been that way for the last several years," said Ron Taketa, Financial Secretary for the Hawaii Carpenters Union.

"We'll take all of the jobs that can be produced," Taketa added.

Lawyers who contend the rail line will disturb ancient burial sites will be back in court Wednesday seeking to stop the project. But Carlisle said he is confident the work will proceed and Kiewit executives said actual construction will begin May 1.

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