HART interim CEO: Rail construction in Dillingham corridor halted, route may shift

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 4:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction of the problem-plagued Honolulu rail project in the Dillingham corridor has been halted, interim HART CEO Lori Kahikina said Wednesday.

In an interview on Hawaii News Now Sunrise, Kahikina said construction of the airport guideway segment is still ongoing but she stopped construction in the Dillingham area.

“The reason I stopped it was we actually did not have 100% design drawings complete,” she said.

“You need to have the complete in order to go to the city to obtain permits before you can start work, so you’re just paying a contractor to be on standby out there.”

Kahikina said the guideway might be moved to the mauka side of Dillingham Boulevard instead of right down the middle due to high voltage lines and other utilities that have to be moved out of the way.

But that effort hinges on approval from landowners like Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii. “When I first came in in January, I knew Dillingham was a problem,” Kahikina said.

“I was on the other side, the city side, trying to get through Dillingham with a spaghetti noodle of utilities underground. There’s no space.”

Kahikina also said the project is currently $2 to $3 billion over budget and that expensive consultants have been let go because she found redundancies and inefficiencies while reviewing project expenses.

“We’re paying layers upon layers of not just HART staff, but consultants and contractors and we need to cut that waste out,” she said. “Our operating cost is about $12 million per month. We need to tighten our belts internally to cut out any waste.”

She is hoping to turn over part of the route by the end of the year for operation but says it will be up to the city Department of Transportation Services and the Honolulu mayor on the exact date.

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