Rail official: Expect 1 year start-up delay

Rail official: Expect 1 year start-up delay
Construction of the Honolulu rail
Construction of the Honolulu rail
Rendering of Honolulu Rail
Rendering of Honolulu Rail

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The chair of Honolulu's rail transit system said it's too early to say if costs will rise another $200 million but he does expect the start-up date to be pushed back a year.

"What the public has to understand is that we've had substantial delays," said former First Hawaiian Bank CEO Don Horner.

"I anticipate that management getting back to us for an extension of time of up to 12 months."

Horner's comments were in response to a letter today by Mayor Kirk Caldwell asking rail officials to explain potential new cost overruns and delays.

The rail system is supposed to be completed by the first quarter 2020 but officials with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation said that legal challenges have set the project back by nine months.

Rail officials cited other delays such as work on the utility construction work near the airport, which is seven months behind schedule. Construction on the West Oahu Farrington Highway Guideway is also lagging.

"Right now as, we are tracking four to six months behind schedule" on the guideway project, said Tom LeBeau, HART's deputy director for construction.

So far, the delays are costing millions. Trains manufacturer Ansaldo Honolulu has issued an $8.7 million change order due to the delay. Ansaldo previously wanted $18 million for the delay.

Horner cautioned that speeding up the project to meet the 2020 deadline could wind up increasing costs even more due to higher overtime and other costs.

He also addressed the mayor's concerns about new projected cost overruns. Horner previously stated that construction is now running 30 percent over budget and that if it were to increase to 40 percent, it would mean another $200 million.

"I want to make it clear that the $200 million is an estimate," Horner said

"If the bids go 10 percent below, there will be a $200 million savings."

Rail officials noted that some of latest bids have been coming under budget. The lowest bid for the contract to build three West Oahu stations came in $11 million under budget while the ramp contract. Bids for the ramp connecting Farrington and Kamehameha highways is also $5 million below projected costs.

Rail officials said they expect to have a more complete picture of cost overruns and delays at HART's next board meeting on Oct. 15.

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