132 more trees to be moved for rail transit

132 more trees to be moved for rail transit

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The change orders continue for the rail project including one that will uproot 132 more trees than originally anticipated.

The West Oahu Farrington Highway phase of the rail was supposed to move a total of 234 trees.  Now that number has gone up to 366 trees that will have to be cut down or transplanted at an additional cost of more than $900,000.

"The removal of the trees, you know what trees are there, they don't just pop up overnight. So why would that be a change order?" asked Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Council Budget Committee Chair.

Hart says the rail's environmental impact statement focused on trees along streets and highways.  The additional trees are more off the roadways.  Many are near the proposed park and ride station at the Banana Patch, and next to Waipahu High School and Leeward Community College.  Hart plans to meet with college leaders to figure out where to transplant the trees.

Some trees have been removed from the rail route, including 185 trees included in the original plan that have already been moved to places like Mililani, Makakilo, Waipio and Nimitz Highway.

The Hart board was also updated on other change orders at the last meeting, including redesign and grading changes at the proposed Ho'opili site that will cost nearly a million dollars.

Another change deals with 27 drawings that were accidentally left out of plans which will cost another $925,000 which the city will try to recoup from the contractor.

"Why all these change orders? Whenever a contractor gets a contract and I think they were $90 million low, and I always think there are going to be change orders. And sure enough there are change orders," said Kobayashi. "All this money being wasted and it's the public that gets it in the end, because we're the ones that have to pay, we're paying and paying."

Hart says the money for the change orders is still coming out of its contingency budget and not adding to the overall cost of the $5.26 billion project.

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