The first leg of Honolulu’s $5.2 billion rail project might not open on time due to higher-than-expected construction costs.

On Tuesday, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas announced his agency would rebid a contract to build the first nine rail stations.

The initial bid had come in more than $110 million more than expected, and Grabauskas’s hope is to split the contract into three, three-station segments as a way to rein in the cost.

Honolulu rail project columns

Honolulu’s rail project is facing increasing costs, forcing officials to reevaluate their plans.

Doing this, however, could delay the opening of the East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium portion of the rail system from 2017 to 2018. The entire system, which runs from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, is still scheduled to open in 2019.

During an afternoon press conference, Grabauskas blamed Honolulu’s “red hot” construction market for the cost increase, in addition to a shortened construction schedule due to delays caused by two lawsuits.

Dividing the contract into three, he said, could reduce the time crunch faced by contractors and allow smaller companies to get involved with the project. HART officials have also looked for ways to reduce the cost of materials to help lower the price.

The previous budget for building the nine stations was $184 million, which included a $34 million contingency. But the lowest bidder, Nan, Inc., submitted a proposal for $294 million.

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