Mayor Kirk Caldwell has tapped Glenn Nohara, a longtime local construction industry leader, to replace Colleen Hanabusa on the board overseeing the island’s financially troubled rail project.
Nohara has more than 40 years experience in the local building sector and he serves as chairman of Koga Engineering & Construction, a company he has been with since 1984, according to the firm’s website.
Prior to his time at Koga, Nohara worked at Hawaiian Dredging Construction as a cost and project engineer, as well as a superintendent.
Caldwell notified the City Council by letter today of Nohara’s pick to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board. In a separate statement, Caldwell touted Nohara’s “years of private sector engineering and construction experience, particularly in estimating construction costs for projects.”
Rail in the past two years has been plagued by skyrocketing costs and officials’ seeming inability to keep pace with their estimates. Since December 2015 the projected cost has grown by more than $3.3 billion and rail now faces a budget gap of at least $1.8 billion. The latest official estimates put rail’s total price tag at $8.6 billion.
Koga’s website lists Nohara as a graduate of the University of Hawaii in civil engineering and of Roosevelt High School.
Meanwhile, Hanabusa, a former Hawaii congresswoman, submitted her formal resignation as HART chairwoman on Monday as she looks to return to Congress this fall. Her resignation took effect today.
“It is with genuinely mixed emotions that I submit this letter,” Hanabusa wrote to Caldwell. “I remain confident that HART will address its challenges, complete the project in its entirety, and make a lasting difference for the City and County of Honolulu.”
Caldwell appointed Hanabusa to the HART board in June 2015 and she became its chairperson in April following Don Horner’s departure from the project.
The rail board will now have to select a new chairperson to replace Hanabusa.