Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) interim executive Lori Kahikina believes a portion of Hawaii’s first light-rail line can be open in a matter of months.
Right now, about 60% of the 20-mile track is complete, and construction began a decade ago. When the ribbon was cut on the project it was expected to cost $5.5 billion and be complete in 2026. Now the cost is projected at over $12 billion and the route will not be open until 2031.
However, Kahikina believes the section from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium could be running as early as December. Furthermore, construction from Middle Street to the airport could finish up by next summer. The latest delay involves train wheels not properly fitting along parts of the track.
While HART faces a $3.5 billion budget gap for the project, talk has centered around ending the line at Middle Street instead of Ala Moana. Kahikina is against that idea, saying the ridership at Ala Moana is double that of Middle Street.
HART’s interim executive also is taking heat for a new contract involving former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Hanabusa will serve as a project consultant to federal, state and city agencies, and it was reported she would make almost $1 million. Kahikina said that is not true. Hanabusa will be making $12,000 a month for the first 18 months with the option to extend the contract every year.