Former rail officials' parted strategy doesn't go as planned

Markets Associated Press

It has become clear that the Honolulu rail project's cost moving forward will not be as low as expected in 2015, officials said.

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The agency overseeing the rail will have to pay its construction consultant millions of dollars extra to help monitor all the station work simultaneously, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

In 2015, former officials broke the project into three parts in an attempt to open the field to competitive bidders. But by doing so, the firm that has a contract to help monitor and inspect the rail's first 10 miles (16 kilometers) now has triple the work to do to monitor simultaneous progress on the stations.

"This is an expense that should have been anticipated at the time the decision was made," said Ember Shinn, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board member and former city managing director. "There are probably other collateral expenses associated with un-bundling (the station work)."

The authority on Thursday approved a $16 million increase to the firm, San Francisco-based PGH Wong Engineering, and expects to pay it even more.

The $16 million is expected to last through June 2018. By the time the firm's contract finishes, however, the authority expects it could pay the firm as much as $36 million more than the original $54.2 million deal, which was signed in January 2014.

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The original contract assumed the firm would have to oversee only one construction contract to build all nine west side stations.

Overall, the rail project faces a budget shortfall of about $3 billion, including financing. The Legislature said this week it intends to hold a special session later this summer to work out a funding solution.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com