Construction proposals to build three rail stations came in millions of dollars higher than expected, yet officials remain optimistic that plans to reduce costs are working.

On Tuesday, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation opened bids from five companies vying for a piece of the $6 billion railroad project. The lowest bid was $79 million from Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, which was more than the $65 million to $75 million HART had hoped for in its own estimates.

Other proposals ranged from $85 million to $117 million. HART must now review the bids to make sure all specifications and requirements were met before officially awarding the contract to the lowest bidder. The stations are located at West Loch, Waipahu and Leeward Community College.

David Ha from procurement/HART announces bids at press conference held at HART/Alii Place. 3 march 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

HART employee David Ha, right, announced bid prices for construction of three rail stations around Waipahu.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

HART originally bid the three rail stations last year as part of a larger nine-station construction package, but stopped once the lowest-priced proposal came in about $110 million more — or about 60 percent higher — than expected.

Much of the cost increase was blamed on the current construction boom taking place around Kakaako, where cranes have become part of the skyline. To reduce the price, HART split the nine-station package into smaller three-station segments in order to increase competition among smaller construction companies that might not have been able to perform large-scale projects.

“It appears that the strategy we put in place is working,” HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas said during a press conference after the bid opening. “I’d like to think that we’re now getting a better handle on exactly what the costs will be and how we’re going to handle it going forward.”

Grabauskas said the latest bids reinforce the belief that future contracts will come in up to 50 percent higher than originally budgeted. But he added that the fact that the dollar amounts were close to city projections is cause to be hopeful.

HART plans to issue a request for proposals next month for the next three stations along the railroad. The next station group is scheduled to go out to bid in August.

The project is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, and has a shortfall estimated at nearly $1 billion. HART and city officials are currently asking the Legislature to increase taxes to help pay fill in the gap.

The latest construction proposal will not increase the projected deficit if the contract goes to Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company.

Company Proposal Amount
Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company $78,999,000
Hensel Phelps $88,016,525
Nan Inc. $85,074,478
Ralph S. Inouye Ltd. $117,515,520
Watts Construction LLC $88,803,553

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