The scheduled December 2020 opening of the Honolulu rail line’s first segment may be pushed back because of the discovery in late April of cracks found in several prefabricated steel structures that were to be used at West Oahu rail stations.
Andrew Robbins, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation chief executive officer and executive director, told HART’s Project Oversight Committee on Thursday that he believes the issue can be resolved by December without delaying the East Kapolei-to-Aloha Stadium segment’s opening the following year.
“I assure you that at this point interim service (in December 2020)
is not impossible,” Robbins said. “You have a goal, obstacles come
in front of you and you resolve the obstacles. We’re not at the point yet where I could agree that it’s
But he also stressed that the safety and quality of the $9.2 billion rail line won’t take second priority to expediency. “We will not compromise on quality or safety,” he said.
The defects were found in the lower segments of five steel “canopy arms,” the platform frames holding up the fabric roof canopies that will provide shade and shelter for passengers at rail stations. They also can accommodate cables for security cameras, public address speakers and light fixtures, as well as signage.
None of the five were installed.
But when pressed by board members whether the interim service schedule might be affected, Robbins said, “It potentially could.”
Board member Ember Shinn said the situation appears to be “a fairly significant issue.”
While it’s good that the problem was discovered early and that HART is already working on solutions, Shinn said, “I just don’t see, frankly, how interim service is not going to be affected.”
She added, “At some point in time — maybe not today, maybe not in a month, but maybe in three months or in four months when we have more information — I think we need to take hard look at the schedule for interim
service. … We don’t want to create public expectations (that the first portion could be open by December 2020) when something as critical as this needs to be addressed and decided on.”
After the meeting, Robbins said testing of the initial line was originally supposed to be completed by October. So long as all the Farrington Highway stations through Waipahu are up and running by December, “that wouldn’t affect our interim service.”
Similar plans need to be
in place for the other first-
segment stations, he said. “I still don’t see any reason why we can’t make it.”
The defects were found in canopy arms manufactured for two separate station groups, which means they were found in materials used by two different contractors using different manufacturers on the mainland.
Nan Inc., tasked with building the three westernmost rail stations in East
Kapolei and Hoopili, in late April found cracks in the lower segment of one canopy arm that was supposed to go up at the Hoopili station, said In-Tae Lee, HART engineering and design manager. The frame was never erected, Lee said.
Also in late April, contractor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. — which has the contract to construct the three rail stations in Waipahu and Leeward Community College — found four cracked lower segments at its manufacturer’s factory in Kansas, Lee said. They were never shipped to Hawaii, he said.
While investigations on both cases have not been completed, initial indications are that, at least in the case of the Waipahu frames, the cracks developed during the galvanization of the steel, Lee said. Galvanization is the process of creating a layer of zinc that is corrosion-resistant. The coating is created by dipping the steel or iron in a bath of molten zinc.
Fifteen other canopy arms that are part of the West Oahu Stations Group have been installed and do not appear to have cracks, Lee said.
All 10 of the canopy arms delivered to the Farrington Highway Stations Group are being held up and not being installed at this time, he said.
HART has put the contractors and designer of both both segments on notice.
“All the parties are working collaboratively to developing and analyzing a resolution,” Lee said.
Robbins said any cost tied to replacing the structures is to be borne by the contractor or manufacturer.
Board member Tobias Martin questioned how a defective structure could have passed inspection and been shipped to Honolulu.
“We’re looking into that,” Lee said.
A task force was formed May 14 to determine any need for modifications to the design and specifications and the need for any changes to the means and methods undertaken by contractors and fabricators, Lee said.
HART management already has directed AECOM, which designed the stations, to commence on a “Plan B” to determine whether the problem is in the design or manufacturing, and then come up with alternate plans that can be fast-tracked to avoid potential delays, he said.
“We wanted to get a Plan B going … because any delays will impact us,” Robbins said. “We don’t want to wait two to three months to find out we need a Plan B.”
A study is being conducted and is expected to be completed this week, and HART officials will be given a briefing next week.
Also on Thursday the committee received details of a separate problem involving up to a dozen “shrinkage cracks” in the Waipahu section of the
concrete deck along the
rail guideway. The cracks have allowed rain to leak into the hollow interior of the structure.
Shrinkage cracks are common but not supposed to cause leaks, HART officials said.
The guideway’s structural integrity is not compromised, they said.
Rail contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. has agreed to make the necessary repairs and seal the cracks at no cost to the city.
City Council Transportation Committee Chairman Brandon Elefante agrees that the public’s safety is the top priority. While the situation is concerning, he’s hopeful there’s enough of a time cushion that the December 2020 deadline can still be met.
“This goes back to safety and getting a quality product,” Elefante said. “The contractor has to address that and work with HART.”