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Caldwell: 'No Explanation' For Rail Delays On Dillingham Boulevard

Catherine Cruz

Updated: 2/11/20, 11:30 a.m.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is growing increasingly impatient with delays in the city's rail project, citing holdups in awarding the final phase of the system's construction contract and work along Dillingham Boulevard.

Last month, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation announced it extended its deadline for companies to bid on the last 4.6 mile segment of the rail line. The work would go through the city center and end at Ala Moana.

HART President and CEO Andrew Robbins said his agency expects to award the contract in May.

This is the fourth time HART has extended its deadline, the mayor said Monday, following a blessing ceremony for the 1936 Citron Street affordable rental project. 

Another postponement will not only cost more, but will further put off HART's own completion deadline of 2025. That deadline is not echoed by Federal Transit Administration officials, according to Caldwell.

"They have said it's 2026, towards the end," the mayor said. "In fact, they believe it is 2026, and they think that the city may have to kick in additional funds as a result."

HART has said the contract deadline was extended at the request of construction bidders.

The mayor is further concerned about delays in work along Dillingham Boulevard, one of Honolulu's busiest roads.

Caldwell said HART has not submitted a final traffic management plan for the area and rail officials should have already started relocating utilities along the road.

"This was a notice to proceed that was given almost two years ago. And yet, utilities have not yet been relocated," he said. "And if they're not relocated, it could result in delay."

Caldwell highlighted this delay on Dillingham Boulevard could further postpone the construction of guideways and stations -- which would ultimately result in more change orders and additional costs. 

"I think there's been two years of delay, unacceptable delay, with no explanation, ever, by HART," said Caldwell.

"It seems to me HART was sitting on their hands, and not pushing this early. Now they realize there's a problem, and they're going to try and do it quicker -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- on a corridor that is the most heavily used transit corridor on Oahu."

HPR reached out the HART on Monday for comment on the mayor's comments, but received no response. On Tuesday, HPR called HART again for response, and spokesman Bill Brennan provided no on-the-record comment.

A rail spokesman told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last month that a traffic plan for Dillingham is being reviewed by HART officials.

Earlier this month, the mayor announced the suspension of work on the Neal S. Blaisdell Center renovation project. He cited uncertainty over the financing and timing of the rail project among the reasons for the suspension. 

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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