The latest estimate for Honolulu’s embattled rail project: $10B

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Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The cost for the city’s beleaguered rail project continues to soar ― and now stands at nearly $10 billion.

During a meeting of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s board, the rail authority said the increase includes $832 million in higher construction costs.

Together with $841 million in financing costs, the current estimate for the 20-mile project is now $9.9 billion, HART said.

Staffers said the new estimate is as accurate as possible.

“The last thing we want to come out with is overly optimistic projections and estimates,” said Nate Meddings, HART’s director of project controls.

But Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who recently pulled the city out of talks with private developer for the project’s final leg, said he doesn’t trust HART’s figures.

“There should be a third party, independent cost estimate done at this point ... so we can come up with a plan B to take to the (Federal Transit Administration),” said Caldwell.

Higher than expected bids played a major role in the mayor’s decision to pull out of the procurement process to have a private developer build the Middle Street to Ala Moana Center segment and to operate the system for 30 years.

HART board members urged both sides to stop the fighting and to cooperate.

“There’s no doubt in my mind we have to get our house in order. When I say house, I mean HART and the city together. we have to present a unified front,” said HART board member Terry Lee.

Board members warned that the disagreements come as $250 million in federal funding will lapse at the end of the year.

“I’m very concerned that we don’t have months, we don’t have weeks, we have days. And there’s probably far fewer days than many of us realize,” said board member Wes Frysztacki.

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