As the Honolulu Authority of Rapid Transportation continues to tweak its financial plan, a decision has been made to change the designs of all 21 rail stations from East Kapolei to the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
HART spokesman Scott Ishikawa said the decision to modify the rail stations, known as value engineering, was made to lower the overall cost of the $5.3 billion project.
KITV4 asked HART for specifics about the proposed changes to rail stations, but received no response. HART CEO and Executive Director Dan Grabauskas was said to be unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
The executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership, a pro-rail group supported by the Hawaii Carpenters Union, said it’s not uncommon for transit projects to undergo changes as construction gets underway.
“The issues that are ongoing for rail right now are issues that occur on many transit projects across the U.S.,” said White. “We still believe that there will be thousands of jobs for the construction industry in the short-term.”
However former Gov. Ben Cayetano, the only anti-rail candidate for Honolulu mayor, said any changes to the project’s design could impact the train’s carrying capacity.
“It basically shows how poorly the project has been managed,” said Cayetano. “The question is from an engineering standpoint, will it continue to support the vehicles, because all these things have to have a certain load capacity.”
Although HART would not provide specifics about the design changes to rail stations, the agency’s website states all stations along the route will be 240 feet long.
Any changes to the elevated platforms will likely be detailed in the latest Project Management Oversight Contractor report, which is due out this week.
The design changes to rail stations is the latest challenge to face rail planners as they prepare to apply for a full funding grant agreement expected to be worth $1.55 billion.
Earlier this month, HART secured a line-of-credit from the Honolulu City Council worth up to $450 million, a key step in applying for the federal grant. Grabauskas testified the additional funding was a new requirement by the Federal Transit Administration for transit projects across the country in case of a cataclysmic event, such as a natural disaster.
Meanwhile, the Honolulu rail project could be the next fiscal battle between democrats and republicans on Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday, the republican-controlled Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House set aside $100 million for the project, which is $150 million less than what President Barack Obama requested in his budget for fiscal year 2013.
The Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee of the U.S. Senate approved $250 million for the rail project as a down payment toward the FFGA, setting up a showdown in conference committee with Republicans.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is chaired by Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye, the most powerful member of the Senate and a strong champion of the city’s rail project.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated rail stations would be built shorter. HART said the platforms will remain 240 feet long, but undergo design changes.