HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's far down the line but the council was brought up to speed on decorations at rail stations. The city will spend $5.4 million or about one percent of the construction costs on art. It breaks down to roughly $200,000 per transit station. And as much as some council members would like to, federal guidelines would prevent them from giving preference to local artists.
A main art supporter on the council is actually a heavy rail opponent.
"If we're going to have the stations we might as well have them look nice and I've not been against the stations or mass transit I'm just against using heavy rail," said Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Councilmember.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board or HART also recommended its ninth voting member former Senate President and insurance broker Bobby Bunda and with it another ringer for rail.
"The group also believes that the board would benefit from adding a member that experiences first hand driving everyday in the traffic conditions coming from west and central Oahu and who is passionate about needed relief. He is such a person and is a long standing and staunch supporter of the city's rail project," said Carrie Okinaga, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board Chair.
The transit board is also moving forward with the protested core systems contract with Ansaldo Honolulu to build the rail cars and communication system. At least one council member thinks that's a bad idea. Tom Berg advocated for Bombardier Transportation which he says is $250 million cheaper and would create 150 more local jobs by building the rail cars in Hawaii.
Bombardier also sent a letter to the entire HART board urging a review of the proposals and extending its offer to the city until October 31.
"We'd like the mayor, and this council and hart to actually fight to have this protest and this whole procurement process reexamined because it's flawed," said Tom Berg, Honolulu City Councilmember.
"If the board still has legitimate concerns regarding Ansaldo's financial status (Toru Hamayasu) will not sign the contract on behalf of the city so that's very key," said Okinaga.
Another key factor, the city is waiting to see if Ansaldo will be able to secure more than $700 million worth of insurance bonds which would be an indication on whether they'll be able to finish the job.