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HART CEO Kahikina warns rail construction phase through Honolulu will be disruptive

A segment of the Honolulu rail in October 2021.
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit
A segment of the Honolulu rail in October 2021.

If you live or work in parts of downtown Honolulu and Kakaʻako, prepare for some construction chaos. That’s the word from the leadership of the Honolulu rail project.

Expect slow traffic and loud noise as construction crews work through the Iwilei corridor into the downtown Civic Center area bounded by South Street and Halekauwila Street.

The utility relocation project involves moving power, sewer, water and gas lines — as well as storm drains and communications infrastructure.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO Lori Kahikina explained the complicated work ahead.

“It's not going to be just from west to east. They're going to be working methodically. They are going to break it down by the type of work. So if they're going to be saw cutting the road, they're going to be doing it here at this location, further down another block, and another block," Kahikina said Friday afternoon at the Middle Street-Kalihi Transit Center.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation

"It's not necessarily, 'We're only going to saw cut here, dig it up, relocate the utility. Okay, next patch.' No, they're gonna be all over. So, it’s going to be painful, but we’ll try to keep everyone informed as best we can," Kahikina said.

Kahikina said crews are mostly going to be working from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but they could add a second crew in the evening if needed. You can find more detailed information about upcoming work, and traffic and noise impact at community meetings run by HART.

The Honolulu rail station near Middle Street under construction in July 2022.
Catherine Cruz
The Honolulu rail station near Middle Street under construction in July 2022.

"Apologizing upfront, it's going to be an inconvenience, but we're going to try and make it as pain-free as we can by being open and honest and communicating," she added.

Meanwhile, HART is awaiting approval from the Federal Transit Administration of its amended financial recovery plan which outlines a truncated version of the rail line, stopping it about a mile short of Ala Moana Center, and postponing construction of a parking garage in Pearl Highlands.

Listen to the second part of this interview with Kahikina: Honolulu rail project is exploring alternatives to Pearl Highlands parking garage.

Click here to find the latest traffic updates from HART.

This interview aired on The Conversation on July 11, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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