Defending the decision to rebid nine rail station contracts and push back some construction, Honolulu rail GM Dan Grabauskas says he has a responsibility to control project spending.
“Our responsibility is to do everything we can to keep costs low,” Grabauskas said Tuesday, “so we don't bust the bank overall.”
Bids came in half again higher than expected. The lowest bid for the nine stations, from Nan Inc., a local company that does a lot of defense contracting business, was almost $300 million.
In rebidding the work, HART, the Honolulu Area Rail Transportation Authority, broke the work up into bundles of three stations apiece. Hawaii Sen. Sam Slom was skeptical about that helping, saying “everybody knows” you can lower prices when you buy in volume, but Grabauskas said he hopes the rebidding induces the bidders to “sharpen their pencils” and find a way to do the work for less.
HART has a fund for unexpected expenses which could have covered the higher-than-expected bids, but Grabauskas said, “I need to keep that fund as solvent as possible for the next five years so we can handle other unknowns.”
Grabauskas said railcar frames are now being manufactured at an aluminum extrusion plant in Italy – he brought samples to show on Hawaii News Now Sunrise – and “we have folks there this week” to scrutinize the process.
HART has about 120 columns in the ground so far, and the first stretch of fixed guideway has gone up on West Oahu.