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Construction restarts on the rail project after 13 months

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 1:04 p.m. HST, Sep 16, 2013

City officials joined construction workers for a blessing in the Ewa fields as work restarted on the city's $5.26 billion rail project at dawn this morning.

The project was halted for 13 months after the Hawaii Supreme Court demanded that the city conduct archeological studies throughout the 20-mile Kapolei-Ala Moana route.

The State Historic Preservation Division checked off on the completed archaeological plans several weeks ago and the City Council approved a special management area use permit last week that cleared the way for construction to restart.

Dan Grabauskas, chief executive for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said the delay has cost taxpayers between $30 million and $35 million in direct costs.

Rail critics say the start-up is premature because if a decision on pending federal litigation goes against the city, it could cost the city more to tear down the concrete columns now going up.

About 75 construction workers went back on the job this morning, said Lance Wilhelm, senior vice president for primary HART construction contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West.

That number is expected to ramp up to about 1,600 employees and subcontractors in the first quarter of 2014, Wilhelm said.

Farrington Highway through Ewa, from Kualakai Parkway (formerly North-South Road) to the Old Fort Weaver Road triangle, will be closed completely through March as a result of the construction.

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