Rail costs rise nearly $12M

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of the main contractors for Honolulu's rail system is asking for another $11.7 million to build the first half of the project.

It's the latest of 40 amendments or change orders sought by Kiewit Corp., which was awarded the $542 million contract to build the West Oahu Farrington Highway Guideway.

But cost overruns have added another $110 million in costs.

Officials with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation say the cost increases are legitimate. But board members held off approving payment, saying they had more questions.

"I think the public feels that all we do as a board is we rubber stamp whatever the staff puts before us," said HART board member Colleen Hanabusa.

The increase comes as the city council is set to approve a five-year extension of the rail tax surcharge to pay for the ballooning budget.

The increase is to pay for rising labor and building materials cost. Since the Kiewit contract was issued in 2009, the costs for these goods and services have soared.

Hanabusa says she worries that similar increases may be in store of the next phase of the project along Kamehameha Highway since that project is handled by the same contractor.

But Grabauskas says staffer are doing a better job of holding the line on cost overruns.

"The taxpayers expect us to do this extra work so we'll look all of your invoices, all of your pay stubs, all of your information you can present."

HART's board will take up the issue again at its next monthly board meeting.

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