HART light rail project puts a dagger into center renovation in Honolulu

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The Honolulu Rail Transit (HART) now has a line running right through the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. Any plans to renovate the civic center have been killed, at least for this year. The reason? HART’s capital demand for its elevated rail project.

There is still just over 4 miles to be constructed on the light rail route, and the cost for the final segment has yet to be determined. Construction bids are due in April, and officials are predicting the cost could be as much as $1.4 billion. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the Blaisdell Center renovation, estimated to cost around $772 million, has been put on hold due to the “city’s financial responsibilities for the operations of the upcoming rail service, in addition to a new administration and City Council starting in less than one year,” Caldwell said.

The elevated rail project has been plagued with cost overruns and delays recently. Last February, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena to HART asking for copies of all un-redacted minutes from board of directors meetings over the last eight years. The cost of the 20-mile rail line now sits at $9 billion, making it the most expensive public works project in Hawaii history.

Caldwell wants the next administration to jump-start the Blaisdell renovation project. Upgrades are needed to better serve the public and so that the center can hold major events in Honolulu.

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