Honolulu’s rail agency has awarded the project’s next major contract: a work package valued at as much as $400 million to relocate utilities along the route’s last four miles into town.

Nan Inc., a local firm, will get the contract, according to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Unlike the announcements of past major contracts, HART did not reveal what Nan actually bid for the work. The rail agency also offered no explanation Monday of why the contract’s maximum price tag is double what it estimated seven months ago.

Originally, the utility relocation work was part of the overall construction package to build rail’s final four miles of track and stations. By separating it, project officials hope to drive down the risk and uncertainty associated with those utility lines — and better control costs in the process.

However, the “not-to-exceed” award amount of $400 million is twice the cost that HART officials gave in late October, when Executive Director Andrew Robbins and Project Director Sam Carnaggio estimated the utility work at about $200 million.

HART Rail round steel rebar along Kamehameha Highway.
Crews install steel rebar for the rail route along Kamehameha Highway, near Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Robbins was not available to discuss that discrepancy Monday. But in an email exchange, HART spokesman Bill Brennan said that the contract’s award amount was not the same as its “cost proposal.” He did not elaborate.

The contract’s award amount also differed from the price that Nan, Inc. listed in its proposal, Brennan said. He said he didn’t have the firm’s price available.

In prior years, HART has announced major contract awards by listing the companies competing for that rail work along with their bid amounts. Even for contracts in which HART was not obligated to take the lowest bidder, such as 2016’s $875 million Airport Station and Guideway package, it listed the finalists and their prices.

“HART evaluated the offers and determined that the Nan offer provided HART best value,” Brennan emailed Monday.

Along with Nan, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. was a finalist for the latest contract, according to Brennan. That firm’s bid amount was also not available, he said.

Nan has done prior utility relocation work for rail farther west along the route. It’s also building six of the stations on the island’s west side.

Meanwhile, HART continues to try to convince its partners at the Federal Transit Administration that its latest $8.16 billion budget estimate for rail is sound. The FTA is withholding the project’s remaining $744 million in federal money until it approves the recovery plan that HART submitted in September.

The federal agency has expressed concerns that HART is still short by some $250 million based on a “risk-refresh” analysis done earlier this year. Local rail officials discussed the matter last week and were scheduled to continue talking this week, according to Brennan.

Overall, rail’s estimated construction cost has surged by about $3 billion since December 2014.

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