Mayor urges HART to pull the plug on private-public partnership process

Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 7:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell urged the rail authority to pull out of the procurement negotiations for a public-private partnership for the final four miles of the project.

Last week, the city pulled out of those talks, placing the the fate of the project’s final leg in limbo. Caldwell said Monday that the decision was based on the delays in awarding the contract.

“There’s been delay, after delay, after delay," the mayor said.

“There’s been this pattern at HART since day one that they’re ready to proceed and they can’t get access therefore there are these delay claims and we pay, in the millions, upon millions, upon millions.”

But Andrew Robbins, CEO for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said HART is going ahead without the city, saying legitimate bidders are ready to finish the project.

“These are substantial teams of bidders with national and international firms involved. That’s one success right there where we’re able to attract these major national and international firms to come to Hawaii,” said Robbins.

He said HART will likely award the contract for the private-public partnership, or P3, at the end of the year. Re-starting the bid process could take a year, he said.

According to HART, the delays in awarding a contract for the final leg of the project are tied to the utilities relocation work along Dillingham Boulevard, which is also delayed.

The rail authority has said it hasn’t been able to get city variances and permits to relocated power lines underground.

“It’s been very frustrating. I mean it must be very frustrating ... It’s hard for you to get permits to finish Dillingham. It doesn’t seem like a city project,” said City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi.

But the mayor said these delays are HART’s fault.

“The problem with HART is they don’t have 100 percent design plans," said Caldwell.

"They start building before they have 100 percent design plans and they design as they go and that results in change orders that jack up the price.”

But under questioning from council members today, both sides agreed to cooperate better on work along the city center segment.

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