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Honolulu rail line CEO stops construction on one segment

March 4, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The head of Honolulu’s planned rail line said she has ordered a halt to construction on a portion of the line because the design work for that section had not been completed.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Interim CEO Lori Kahikina told Hawaii News Now she ordered the stop to building in the Dillingham area. Crews were still building the airport segment.

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

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Kahikina said the elevated rail track might be moved to the side of Dillingham Boulevard instead of right down the middle because of high voltage lines and other utilities that have to be moved out of the way.

But doing that could require approval from landowners like Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii.

Kahikina also said the 20-mile (32-kilometer) rail line is currently $2 billion to $3 billion over budget and that 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.”

Kahikina took over as interim CEO of the project in December after bids for a public-private partnership to build the final phase of the rail project and oversee its operation came in well over the agency’s expectations.

The rail transportation agency abandoned its attempt to use a public-private partnership to build that section of the rail line, and the agency’s board did not renew the previous CEO’s contract.

Kahikina was previously Honolulu’s director of Environmental Services for eight years.