Honolulu’s $6 billion rail project received a slight dose of positive news Tuesday when officials opened bids for construction of three stations on the west side of Oahu.

The lowest bidder came in with a price less than anticipated, and all other offers were within the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s target range $65 million to $80 million.

“It’s good news,” HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas said as he stared at the numbers projected on a screen inside the agency’s offices, where the bid opening occurred. “It’s very good news.”

Dan Grabauskas HART rail

HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas is cautiously optimistic about the latest construction bids on the Honolulu rail project.

Nick Grube/Civil Beat

Nan, Inc. is the apparent low bidder to build the three stations at East Kapolei, the University of Hawaii-West Oahu and Hoopili, a recently approved subdivision. The company’s bid came in at just over $56 million, which is $10 million less than the next lowest offer.

HART must review Nan’s proposal before a contract is signed. Other companies also can protest the bid, which might cause a delay in awarding the contract. If Nan’s bid holds up, however, it could signal a positive change for HART.

Last year, officials were surprised by a construction bid for nine rail stations that came in at $110 million more than initial estimates, or about 60 percent higher. HART responded by splitting the nine-station package into three, three-station bids in an attempt to boost competition and reduce costs.

But when the first of the three-station packages came in millions more than expected, there was heightened concern that HART’s maneuvering might have been for naught. The project was already facing a nearly $1 billion deficit and officials were asking the Legislature for more taxes to help fill the gap.

Grabuaskas said Tuesday’s bid is a sign that HART’s plans are working because more companies are bidding. HART has also been able to cut costs on station design in a way that Grabauskas said shouldn’t be noticeable to riders.

For instance, he said stainless steel components of the stations can be replaced with less-expensive powder-coated aluminum. The contractors are also being given more leeway in construction practices.

Still, Grabauskas tempered his enthusiasm about Tuesday’s bid results with the reality of what lies ahead. The East Kapolei, UH-West Oahu and Hoopili stations are the least expensive and least complicated to build because they are in a remote part of the island.

That’s no longer the case once construction moves into town with more consideration for tight quarters and traffic congestion.

“We’ve just got to be mindful that we have 21 stations to get through,” Grabauskas said. “This is good news, but this doesn’t mean we’ve erased the deficit we projected.”

Officials expect to put out a request for proposals for the Kamehameha Highway station group, which includes stations at Pearl Highland, Pearlridge and Aloha Stadium, in August.

Company Proposal Amount
Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. $73,400,000
Hensel Phelps $67,234,000
Nan Inc. $56,088,470
Watts Constructors LLC $66,543,692

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