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Rail officials award $875M contract for airport-Middle Street section

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Today’s award, barring any official protests or challenges, will lock in construction as far as Middle Street, where it would connect with the Kalihi Transit Center at Middle Street and Kamehameha Highway.

Honolulu rail officials have awarded the contract to build the next 5.2 miles of elevated guideway and four stations around the airport: the joint venture of three construction companies, Shimmick/Traylor/Granite, will build that stretch for $874.8 million.

Shimmick/Taylor/Granite was selected from three joint ventures competing for the latest rail work. The other two joint ventures — Healy/Hawaiian Dredging and NAN-POSEC-HLRT — bid $1 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively.

With today’s announcement, rail leaders have awarded contracts for as much of the 20-mile, 21-station project that its budget analysts say the island can afford to build — at least for now.

Today’s award, barring any official protests or challenges, will lock in construction as far as Middle Street. It leaves the final 4-mile and 8-station stretch up in the air.

City leaders will now have to scramble to find a way to fill the rail project’s latest, massive budget hole — estimated to be at least $1.5 billion — or come up with an alternative plan that significantly reduces the transit project’s size and scope. Rail’s final planned stretch into Honolulu’s crowded urban core, dubbed the “City Center” section, represents the most challenging section to complete, project officials have said.

Meanwhile, the cost to build this latest quarter of rail around the airport is in line with the broader, massive cost increase estimates that have jarred the 20-mile, 21-station project in recent months.

In 2012, when the city inked a funding agreement with federal transit officials, project leaders estimated it would cost $511.8 million to build the “Airport Section” stretch of guideway and its four stations, running from Aloha Stadium to Middle Street.

This past October, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation budget officials revised that cost to $673.4 million.

Then, just five months later, they raised the estimate to $820 million.

Last month, HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas revealed during one of the rail agency’s board meetings that HART was in a “best-and-final-offer” process with candidates to build the next 5 miles around the airport. It was a key indication that the prices from the firms looking to build came in higher than expected.

Kiewit Infrastructure West, the firm that’s building the first 10 miles of guideway from undeveloped East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, was not one of the three candidates looking to build the next stretch.

Official project cost estimates have increased by about 60 percent since 2012, rising from some $5.26 billion to an estimate of at least $8.3 billion currently. The latest “upper bound,” or highest possible cost projection, is at $10.79 billion, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

Grabauskas previously said he would issue an addendum to the firms looking to build the City Center section, advising them to “stand down” on their work until rail officials have a clearer direction for the project.

Hart Airport by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd

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    • Another wooden stake into the inept HART of the $29.3 Billion Dollar TITANIC RAIL SCAM from no where to no where and much more than a Blight!!!

        • STOP your conspiracy theories, accusing and smearing all our city officials and leaders of trying to rip off the public. They were elected by a majority of people to make rail metro a reality.

        • Did you miss this part?

          “In 2012, project leaders estimated it would cost $511.8 million to build the “Airport Section” stretch of guideway and its four stations, running from Aloha Stadium to Middle Street.

          This past October, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation budget officials revised that cost to $673.4 million. Then, just five months later, they raised the estimate to $820 million.”

          Either they are intentionally lying OR they are monumentally terrible at their jobs. You seem pretty sure it’s not a conspiracy, so that leaves gross incompetence.

      • You are out of your mind, to throw away the 6.8 Billion of Federal, State and City and County money already invested in the rail metro project.

        • You are out of your mind because spending is out of control and 6.8 billion is not going to complete it.

        • There are ways to finance the completion of rail. 1)interest rates on government bonds are at all time lows. City and State could issue rail bonds. 2) extend the 0.005% GET tax surcharge for as long as it takes to complete the entire rail project. 3) The property owners around the rail metro stations will see their property values go way up. They will have to pay GET taxes on the property. Part of those taxes could be allocated for the completion of the rail guideway and stations, and also for maintenance and operations later. 4) build only the most heavily trafficked rail stations first, until we have enough funds to build the remainder of stations. 5) have the developers of condos, shopping centers, malls, who stand to benefit from the greater business activity around the stations, contribute to the building of those stations. 6) all of the above

        • Vector says: “The property owners around the rail metro stations will see their property values go way up. They will have to pay GET taxes on the property.”

          You are either lying or terribly uniformed if you think that you pay General Excise Tax on property appreciation.

          Please try to be better informed and/or more honest. There’s been way too many rail lies already.

        • NanakuliBoss says: “Yesterday’s 64% rail to Ala Mo, didn’t lie.”

          Heh. You were the one who called the exact same Ward Poll unreliable the day before because it showed Charles Djou in the lead, but the second it says something that you like, it’s suddenly gospel.

          And the poll also said that residents don’t want taxes to go up any more to pay for it. What the poll really said was “deliver what you said you would.” No one wants to pay lobster prices for a stale boloney sandwich.

        • My grandpa always said, “Don’t chase bad money with good money.” Grandpa was one smart feller. I reckon Vector never went to colleje, but it ain’t nothing to be ashamed for. Shucks, not everybody can be a smart feller.

    • They should dismantle the part of the eyesore that has already been built. Then do ground-level light rail, or dedicated bus lanes running in a continuous loop, or even a bridge across the harbor. Anything but that massive, noisy, useless eyesore.

      • For one thing how can the rail metro be a noisy eyesore, when it’s not even running. As for eyesore, I think the rail guide way is much narrower and way less massive than the H-1, H-2, H-3, and Airport Viaduct monstrosities, that hug the ground and have so many on and off ramps, and overpasses. In fact the rail guide way is a great feat of structural engineering with the beautiful overpass at the H-1, H-2 merge, and the one near the Hawaiian Electric Plant in Waiau.

        • irt Vector, You sound like a total (nut) sure STEEL ON STEEL ELEVATED RAIL is so quiet that not even a mouse will be able to hear it. duh—- that’s why they have 4 foot high sound barriers ONM EACH SIDE TO SHOOT the SCREECHING VIBRATIONS HIGH INTO THE AIR SO ONLY THE MATIANS ON MARS WILL HEAR IT.

      • At grade rail system is the same as having million express buses running in the same paths as everyone else in their cars, one major accident will have everyone stuck in the same gridlock… A separate, elevated rail is not affected by accident down below it. If we had politicians with foresight back when Fasi was mayor and proposing to build one back in the 80’s and again a second chance in the early 90’s, we would not be arguiing where the money would be coming from, most of the construction money back then would have been born from the federal money….in other words, guys from as far away as Vermont, Florida, etc would have been paying for the rail back then. But we have shortsighted politicians who only ran for office to line their pockets after leaving office…..

    • This is good news. We will find the money to complete to Ala Moana and satisfy the 64% of Honolulu voters who agree it needs to be completed.

  • Out of control. Not one person I know in Ewa wants to use rail. Too hard to drop kids off at school, stop by the store on the way home, or do anything out is the ordinary. Plus there will be very little parking at most of the stations. Besides financials, the next big wake up will come when people realize the ridership data is bogus.

      • Rail metro is not only about the people in Ewa who will be riding it. It’s also about all the people living along the 20 miles of rail guide way, and living near the 21 rail metro stations, wHo will be using the rail metro

        • You do know it doesn’t go to Ewa. And for those who live along the rail corridor, 90% live farther then a 1/4 mile from a rail station, which means very few will be walking or waiting for a bus to take them to a rail station.

        • People may not live near the rail stations, but they can bike, roller blade, roller board and walk to the rail stations. At the same time get exercise and improve your health. We have an obesity epidemic in this country, with not enough people walking and exercising. Just got back from France, and every city has a metro line. People walk more, bike more, skate board more in France, the people are healthier and not many are obese or overweight. Exercise will let you live longer

        • I hope there will be more ridership than expected, but using the 1/4 mile analogy around a station, only those who live near a station going to a place near a station will most likely use this one line transit system.

        • If people won’t walk, ride a bike, rollerblade, etc. to a bus stop now, what makes you think they’ll do it when the train starts running. I hate to say it, but its a dellusional dream if you think people will start doing all of that just because rail starts running.

        • Glad to see the contract has been awarded for the 5.2 mile portion of the rail guide way between the Stadium rail station and the Middle St. station, and the construction of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base station, the Airport rail station, the Lagoon Drive station and the Middle St. rail station.
          Now people will be able to ride back and forth to the airport on the rail metro, without having to drive, or take a taxi, or have someone else drop them off or pick them up. Even more reason, to extend and complete the metro all the way to Ala Moana Center. Arriving tourists could get to the Waikiki, by catching the metro at the Airport metro station and riding it to the Ala Moana Center, where a short shuttle ride could take them into Waikiki.

    • I have not looked up ridership data, but I can say that the buses that head to Waipahu and areas west of Waipahu from downtown are packed as late as 8 p.m. This group of riders probably have kids who attend their neighborhood public schools and do not have the option of driving in – and may not know anyone who lives in the 96734 zip code for that matter.

    • Talk about parking, wait until the riders find out they have to pay for parking at the rail stations. Look at the new satellite city hall by Iwilei Costco.

      By the way, still no word on the rail fare. I guess city wants it to be a big surprise if or when the project is finally finished.

      • What about parking in town or Waikiki, if you can find any street parking. And the paid parking in the garages and on the streets are expensive, and you may end up with a $35 ticket for an expired meter. For people who work in Honolulu or Waikiki, monthly parking is a big expense. They would ride the metro gladly, while saving the cost of driving their cars, and the car parking expense. Let’s build rail first, before we start worrying about parking at the 21 metro stations.

      • There are a lot of local people working on rail metro. Planners, designers, engineers, Contractors, Sub contractors, State and City employees, Material and equipment suppliers, longshoremen, truck drivers, Hawaiian Electric crews, Board of Water Supply crews, Oceanic and HAWTEL crews. There are many people behind the scenes and indirectly involved in making rail metro a reality. You may not see them shoveling dirt or digging trenches. Before rail construction began, nearly 50% of the construction industry was unemployed, and we were in a deep recession. Remember teacher furlough Fridays, and all the public and social services being drastically cutback.

        • Also, there are a lot of utility and street upgrades and improvements along the rail guide way, which are also creating more jobs and incomes for our people, and improving our already booming economy.

        • Other people indirectly working on the rail project, are the freight and shipping people, like Matson, bringing in the materials and equipment used to construct rail, People who work for Ameron, which provides the concrete, the steel manufacturers and suppliers, the employees of airlines, that bring in the people from the mainland and elsewhere who are working on the rail project.

        • Vector,
          Are the behind the scenes also goofing off? Driving all over Oahu doing personal errands and getting paid. GPS all of the HART employees. Not just a C&C/HART vehicle. Ankle bracelet so WE know WHEN they are goofing off.
          Disgusting.

        • Ens623, and are we to assume you are the authority who is a kapuna. Racist attitude

        • What does “kupuna” have to do with race!??!?!

          Pro-rail cheerleader Vector shows up here after ever rail story and starts accusing everyone he disagrees with of being a racist, and now he’s got wiliki doing it too.

          It’s cheap, disrespectful, and offensive. Please stop OR back up your claims! You accused me of the same thing a couple of days ago and then went silent when I challenged to support your foul accusations.

    • The joint venture will be hiring workers from the local union benches. There is a Rapid Transit Stabilization Agreement that governs this project.

        • Where do you get your projections of noise, you are not an acoustic engineer, or a transit planner or designer, you are just making things up. LIARMore negative CYNICAL COMMENTS FROM RAIL METRO DETRACTORS

  • Ever wonder why Kiewit Infrastructure West did not put in a bid? Do they know something we don’t? It is said they are taking everything out of Oahu including the molds used to build the columns. Something is not right.

  • All theses people moku moku moku…bet you they don’t even live in the district the rail plans to service. There’s no way in hell that you’re going to satisfy everyone’s interest or concerns. Look nobody wanted H-3 but look how helpful it is today. Come-on peep change your mind-set. The rail is here already…DEAL WITH IT..AND MOVE ON !!!

    • H-3 is a different story do you know why there was a protest? It was created for the military. All freeways and highways connect one military base to another. That is why the federal government put so much money into building these roads. There remains tons of unanswered question electricity, O&M, who will pay for all of this. Will not change my mindset until you can answer all these questions. I don’t know what “moku” is but it is not Hawaiian. Or do you mean monku which is Japanese.

      • Actually there is a lot of similarities between H-3 and rail project. H-3 was always meant to alleviate traffic from the other side and the use of Federal Highway system designation was a way of securing Federal funding. Present H-3 route is not the originally intended route, was about to be killed until Senator Inouye managed to get it included for funding at the last moment. When constructed, H-3 was the most expensive highway project to date on a per mile basis, I think that’s been overtaken by the “big dig” in Boston. What H-3 has done is spread the load out that were concentrated on Pali and Likelike Highways. Much like rail, H-3 was plagued by opposition and lawsuits that dragged out the start and caused costs to rise dramatically. I think today, most will agree that the opposition to H-3, however well intentioned, was misplaced and that H-3 has enhanced the quality of life for all Oahu residents. Whereas the passage through the mountains are serviced by three Highways, the main, most heavily populated side of the island is basically serviced by only one major highway. It seems illogical to think that it’s adequate in itself with thousands of additional homes planned. The east and north side are pretty much built out with slowing or stopped population growth, not so for the west side. Yes, it’s painful to swallow the gross mismanagement of the rail project and it’s consequences but the option of doing nothing is not an option nor stopping it now, and option of building more Highways is also a costly option, if at all viable. All thriving, progress cities around the world have efficient mass transit systems with rail proven over time and time again as one of the most effective mass transit solutions, if not the most effective. To not see incorporation of rail as an essential transportation alternative is as shortsighted as ones who opposed H-3 years ago. It will take change in travel habits and behaviors for many but I have no doubt that it will be a highly used and desired mode of transportation in the near future.

    • H3 supports commercial traffic all the way up to Matson containers. Does Rail? Comparing Rail to H3 to Rail is a false comparison in so many ways. Will your plumber come to repair your toilet on Rail? Get real!

    • Shawn211 says: “All theses people moku moku moku…bet you they don’t even live in the district the rail plans to service.”

      You mean places the rail won’t service like Kapolei, Ewa, Waianae and UH?

  • The two busiest transit hubs by far are the Ala Moana Center and Downtown Honolulu. Bypass those two and rail doesn’t reach where 80% of the people want to go. Middle Street cannot handle nearly the amount of people movement. Besides, why would I want to get off there? No shopping. No restaurants. And you’d be between Kalihi and Mapunapuna; boy, what a lovely place to hang out during a commute.

  • The media has a short memory. They’re always mentioning $5.26 billion as the start when you and I know that Mufi introduced this project at $3.5 billion.

    • I know many, many people in Ewa. Guess what? Not one says they will use rail. Why? Because on rail they can’t drop their kids off at school in town, can’t stop be the market on the way home, can’t run errands, can’t stop by and see family in Nuuanu—none of that with rail. Also can’t park at most of the stations. So I’m glad you’re paid to be so positive and things are looking brighter for you, but the reality is the ridership projections are as wrong as the financial projections.

      • Rail like the bus works great for the elderly and those unable to drive. Unfortunately the rail is in an area where there are growing families, who need take kids to school and sports and other activities. Rail was poorly planned and executed.

        • There are a substantial population of people who ride the bus to and from West Oahu. The buses that go that way to/from downtown are packed, and they are not elderly retirees. Their kids/grandkids are probably the ones who go to public school in their district and not to a private school in town that require drop offs. They will be the ones who will ride the rail – if it is completed.

        • I’m sure rail will also be super popular with the homeless. All that cool air conditioning.

      • Also, many who were planning to ride the rail to downtown won’t ride it now. Putting a second transfer at Middle Street with its accompanying hassle and wasted time is not worth it.

      • Can’t do any of those things when you’re stuck in traffic for two hours either. Do you know what lot of people from Haleiwa and other areas on the north side do now? They drive to the park and ride or park on the street close to the bus stops in Mililani and ride the bus into town. When they return, they shop in Mililani before driving back home. Similarly, this happens in all major cities where rail is present. They’ve altered their habits to take advantage of the rail system. They avoid horrendous traffic and yet derives the benefit of having their car close at hand when needed.

    • ukuleleblue says: “Things looking brighter for rail.”

      Which part? The part where things have shot billions more over budget since Mayor Caldwell and HART promised us that this latest tax increase would be enough to get it to the mall?

      Or the part where Keiwit, is taking up it bags and not bothering to even bid, because they know a sinking ship when they see one?

      Or the part where HART is OUT OF MONEY?

  • I did not vote for this and I think it has been badly managed, cause major disruption to people and business in the Waipahu, Pearl City, and Aiea area but stopping at middle street makes no sense. It need to go to at least the federal building so people working in town don’t have to transfer to a bus to get to work. I also think Grabby needs to be fired and someone competent to do that needs to be hired. Maybe Djou can do that.

  • Even after revising the cost for the airport to middle street section multiple times, the lowest bid still came in $50 million more then estimated. That is if the contractor can build it within that budget without any change orders, but as history shows, change orders are inevitable and will just raise the cost even more.

  • What tourist from Albuquerque wants to pay for a rail ride from the airport to Middle Street, sit in a crowded transfer point with their bags at their feet, just to pay for a bus ride to Waikiki?

    • Leave now while there is still room on the plane. This new phase contract was awarded before any final determination on route changes. The costs for undergrounding the power lines and moving the sewer lines are not yet accounted for. I’m not sure General Growth has signed off on tearing down part of the expanded parking lot to make room for a rail station or agrees with the adverse impact on customer access. These mainland operators who won the bid seem to have a lot of experience but likely none in Hawaii. Guarantee the final cost will exceed $1 billion for that segment.

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