HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two days after the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board chair Don Horner resigned from his position, two other board members are speaking out about it. Honolulu Transportation Services Director Michael Formby said that the move is a good one. The goal of the board is to be informed and to make the best decision possible. Board member Colleen Hanabusa said that Horner wants what is best for the project going forward. He didn't want to become a political distraction or the source in a loss of public confidence. She believes that in order to maintain the trust of the mayor, the Honolulu city council and the legislature and to move forward, Horner had to step down. She also acknowledged that the board is "not the most popular group" in town and they have inherited a lot of challenges for the $6.5 billion project.
In the meantime, Council Chair Ernie Martin who called for the resignation of Horner didn't want to stop there. He is also asking HART CEO Dan Grabauskas to step aside. Horner's position as the board chair is unpaid, while Grabauskas has a contract that pays him $250,000 per year. Formby said that there is a personnel review for the CEO that is currently going on. He promised that the board would be fair in trying to find the best person to lead the rest of the project. Hanabusa said that if Grabauskas is asked to step down without cause, he would get a 1 year severance package.
In the past, Formby said that he and Hanabusa have had to go back and dig for information that they didn't get from the HART staff. The current rules do not allow the board members to meet in groups of 3 or more, unless they have the full board assembled. Formby said that moving forward, he's hoping to get all the information that the board will need in order to avoid that situation again, but he's hopeful.
Hanabusa said that when she joined the board in June of 2015, she was concerned about the rising cost particularly because of the underground utilities that have to be moved in order to continue construction. She said that the HART stuff told her specifically, that this would not be an issue. Now, she said the federal independent panel that oversees the project acknowledged that the underground utilities are their biggest challenge. That alone could add another one to two hundred million dollars to the cost.