Rail construction restarts after year delay - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Rail construction restarts after year delay

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The $5.3 billion Honolulu rail project is back on track as construction workers re-started work again this morning after more than a year delay.

After more than a year sitting idle Kiewit Construction crews started up the equipment and began rail work again. A moment later the first scoop of dirt came out of the ground. Sixteen columns have already been built and 800 more need to go up. All while many city officials have stood by the project.

"Any public construction project you're going to see some controversy," said Dan Grabauskas, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO. "We have now met the obligations of a recent court case and so we're going to move forward today and we're very happy about that and so are the majority of people in Honolulu."

To make up lost ground construction workers will have to work in multiple areas at the same time, including Pearl City, Waipahu and Kapolei. They will drill shafts, pour concrete and next year they plan to start connecting the columns with the actual train guide way.

"Some of the work will be stacked up more than we wanted it to be," said Lance Wilhelm, Kiewit Infrastructure Senior VP.

The delay cost the city more than $30 million in direct costs. It is however still on time expecting to have the first 10 miles from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium running in just four years and have the last leg to Ala Moana done by 2019.

"It's not that far away, five or six years. I'm very excited and I think the people of the City & County of Honolulu once it's built they're going to say wow. Let's take it to other places too," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.

"I do think they're going to say wow but it's going to be more about what's going to happen with their property taxes than anything else," said Cliff Slater, rail lawsuit plaintiff.

Not so fast say opponents who are still clinging to the court of appeals to halt the project for not properly looking at alternatives.

"We still think we're going to prevail and the city is going through needless expense," said Slater.

With work starting again that also means Old Farrington Road will be blocked off to traffic during the week from North-South Road to Old Fort Weaver Road Loop as crews move water lines and build more columns to support the tracks. The road will open on weekends through Halloween only so people can go get a pumpkin at Aloun Farms.

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