Prep work for rail accelerates along Nimitz Highway

Work has started ahead of the Dillingham segment of the rail project.
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 9:27 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 1:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While Dillingham Boulevard businesses brace for the start of utility relocation work for the rail project, the process has already begun on the last leg of the project from Iwilei to Cooke streets.

Trucks and equipment are already staged in areas in Iwilei after HART awarded Frank Colucci Construction Company the $218 million contract to find and move utilities beneath Nimitz Highway in the project’s City Center segment.

Work has already begun near the intersection of Dillingham Boulevard and Kaaahi Streets. It will continue down Nimitz and then to Halekauwila Street and Cooke Street in Kakaako, where the line will end.

Coluccio will go through a process that includes digging potholes to locate underground utilities.

“(That’s) what the contractor is supposed to do, when every utility comes out and theoretically marks where the utilities are,” said Tim Taylor, project engineer with Coluccio.

“We spend a lot of time extensively trying to pothole and exactly locate those utilities.”

Even if a utility company makes a mark on the pavement, it doesn’t necessarily mean their line is exactly beneath that mark.

Contractors can still hit unknown lines, like the one-inch gas line that was hit and ruptured on Waiakamilo Road Wednesday in an unrelated sewer project.

“The gas line that got ruptured over there was just because when they put the gas line in, there was a little stub that even the gas company didn’t know about, and that’s where we hit and that’s where the gas leak came from,” said Taylor.

The western end of the project in Iwilei is close to areas where homeless encampments have sprung up in the past. And there are concerns about security around the staging yards.

“They do have security guards on patrol nightly and weekends, and the work crews will be on site during the daytime work hours to mitigate any potential crime,” said Patrick Watson, of Honua Consulting.

Much of the work already began over the summer, leapfrogging over the Dillingham Boulevard segment.

“We did issue this contract ahead of the Dillingham utility relocation contract, so these guys started first,” said Joey Manahan, of HART.

“The Dillingham work is going to start at the end of November, so the contractor is just working on getting their mailers out,” said HART planner John Reid.

The first virtual community meeting is set Oct. 27 at noon for the Dillingham segment utility relocation.

Meanwhile, work on Nimitz Highway’s west end will increase toward the end of October, including night work.

The entire utility relocation project for the city center segment is expected to take two years.