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First stretch of guideway goes up for rail

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A segment was lifted into place to form the guideway in Kapolei on Thursday.
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Crews working on the guideway on Thursday.
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The rail's 20-mile guideway will extend from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

The first stretch of guideway for the island’s elevated rail system is now up between columns, offering a clearer glimpse of what the project will eventually look like as it takes shape in the farmlands of West Oahu.

Rail officials, state and local elected leaders and construction managers gathered Thursday at the site of the proposed controversial Ho’opili community development in Ewa to laud the new guideway work.

Some 12 individual segments form the first span, which was completed last week.  Several hundred such spans will be required to form rail’s 20-mile guideway, which will extend from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

Kiewit Infrastructure West has some 400 workers, about 80 percent of them local residents, working on this first leg of guideway construction, said Lance Wilhelm, Kiewit’s senior vice president of Hawaii operations.  The crews will use large metal support trusses to help fix the spans into place atop the columns, and they’ll be able to complete four spans a week, Wilhelm said.

Meanwhile, crews are laying the groundwork for a complicated maneuver, involving a towering engineering structure called a "balanced cantilever," to extend the rail project’s guideway over the freeway Diamond Head of where the H-1 and H-2 merge.  That extension over the freeways will require more lane closures on both roadways, likely to start several months from now, Kiewit officials said Thursday.

The 21-station system will require a $1.56 billion capital budget for fiscal year 2015.  Four construction contracts to build the second 10-mile leg of rail will comprise the bulk of that, at $1.2 billion, rail officials have said. Many of those dollars will actually be spent in subsequent years, rail officials said.

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