Rail officials brace for new round of change orders

Rail officials brace for new round of change orders

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After costs for Honolulu's rail project have soared by more than $1 billion, the rail authority is bracing for a new round of cost increases.

"The board is very concerned because they are change orders. And the public has a right to know what exactly is out there. And we are very frustrated that we still don't know what's still pending," said Colleen Hanabusa, chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Contractor Kiewit recently submitted nearly $20 million in new change orders on the West Oahu Farrington Highway leg of the project. Hart is disputing about $8 million of those costs.

Rail officials also warned about potential costs increases due to the need for a 46KV substation at the Rail Operations Center near Leeward Community College.

The substation could cost as much as $10 million. If regulators determine that the facility is an essential part of HECO's system, then it would bear most, if not all of the cost. But it's not, HART would end up picking up a large part of the tab.

Another dispute with HECO over underground utilities could wind up costing even more money.

HART is already paying about $90 million in construction costs to underground utilities in the Dillingham corridor and airport area

Now, Hawaiian Electric wants the overhead electrical lines near the airport to be placed underground before construction can begin. But rail officials say that could delay the project two to three years.

"I guess my biggest heart burn is that  ... we don't say to HECO you can't keep the decision about how how we're going to do things for the future," said HART board member Mike Formby.

"We have a (request for proposal) to put out on the street. I want to know now. And if we have to put it out on the street because you didn't give us an answer, then maybe HECO shares in the cost of the change."

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