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The project to replace the rail line’s wheels will take a year. Price tag? Unknown

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 7:55 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an ongoing setback for the embattled Honolulu rail project, there are lingering issues with the wheels, which are too small for the width of the track.

Before the Honolulu City Council Tuesday, HART interim Executive Director Lori Kahikina said bigger wheels are what’s needed. She added that a third-party expert determined the narrow wheels could be replaced instead of reworking the entire track interface.

The company Hitachi will now be designing the new wheels, which are expected to arrive next August. They will then need a full year to install and test them.

One unanswered question: Who’s gonna pay for it?

“Is this a cost to the city or the contractor that made the mistake?” Councilman Augie Tulba asked Kahikina.

“Everyone’s asking that, including my own board and as of right now — so I haven’t started negotiations with Hitachi. I just wanted us to work together as a team to get to the solution. And then once we get the solution done, then we’re going to talk commercially on who’s responsible for paying for what,” Kahikina said.

[Read a previous report: Honolulu rail could be up and running this year, but could still face significant delay]

Another problem to be solved is finding welders in Hawaii who are licensed to work with the manganese parts that keep the wheels in place.

The project will likely bring in mainland contractors for now, however someone in Hawaii will need to be certified for long-term repairs.

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