Local officials revealed on Monday the dueling private-sector teams that spent two years competing for a contract to finish Honolulu rail before the city swiftly canceled that latest procurement effort in September.

What the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation did not disclose, however, were the prices those two teams bid. 

Nor did the agency release any other details critical to understanding the proposals and why the city acted so quickly to stop the much touted public-private partnership (P3) deal.

That’s because one of the teams has “expressed concern” about releasing its price proposals to the public, HART spokesman Bill Brennan said in an email Monday. 

One of the teams was dubbed “City Center Connection Group,” or C3G. Its lead joint venture partners were Dragados, which describes itself as a leader in delivering infrastructure projects via the P3 method, along with local firms Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. and Obayashi Design Group.

The other team, dubbed “Imua Transit Honolulu,” or ITH, was composed of lead partners Tutor Perini Corp. and Parsons Construction Group. Among its subcontractors were Granite Construction Co. and Traylor Bros. — two of the three primary contractors building rail from Aloha Stadium to Middle Street.

Workers build a large rail guideway support near the intersection of Dillingham Boulevard and Middle street as the rail enters the city core. September 30, 2020
City and rail leaders have struggled to award the contract to build rail past Middle Street. They haven’t released prices for the latest procurement effort amid concerns from one of the private-sector teams competing for that work. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Some 30 total companies, including various subcontractors and financing firms, comprised the two teams.

It’s not clear which one raised the concerns about releasing pricing information. Several of the companies, including Tutor Perini and Hawaiian Dredging, could not be reached for comment late Monday.

This past summer, Tutor Perini’s chief executive officer told investors in a call that his construction company had bid “over $2 billion” for the work. HART, meanwhile, had budgeted about $1.4 billion for the last four miles and eight stations to Ala Moana Center.

It’s not clear whether Tutor Perini’s figure exclusively covered design and construction. The defunct P3 contract also included a multibillion-dollar operations and maintenance component.

Despite the recent concerns over disclosing price, HART and the city could still release that information if they chose to do so. Nonetheless, they’ve given the unnamed team until the end of this week to file an appeal with the state Office of Information Practices, Brennan said.

If the team doesn’t file an appeal then HART and the city will release the pricing information and other details from the procurement files as planned. 

However, if the team does file an appeal, then HART and the city will “deliberate further before making public the procurement file,” Brennan said. 

Mayor Kirk Caldwell holds a press conference on his ‘conceptual rail plan’ held at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Mayor Caldwell vocally opposed P3 for rail once the city withdrew from that effort. The prices behind those P3 proposals and other key details still haven’t been released. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

That leaves it uncertain when the much-anticipated price details would be publicly released. 

“It’s up to (HART and the city) to decide whether they’re going to disclose” the information — not OIP, said Brian Black, executive director of The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest

The public could be in for a “lengthy wait” for the P3 details if the agencies do opt to wait for OIP and OIP doesn’t expedite its decision, Black added. 

Meanwhile, work to advance rail would continue, including efforts at a fourth procurement attempt to build the elevated line farther into town. 

City and rail leaders, including outgoing Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, have proposed a “phased” procurement approach as funding becomes available. The P3 price details, as well as other information from the procurement file, would offer a better understanding of rail’s rising costs and the challenges it now faces.

City and HART leadership publicly clashed over whether to keep pursuing a P3 deal after the teams submitted their proposals. HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins drew the ire of several of his agency’s board members when he continued to pursue the effort last month against their wishes.

Robbins said the P3 gambit remained the best option for rail’s completion and questioned why the city backed out so fast. Caldwell and others have said the city’s decision to cancel P3 would make more sense once the P3 price proposals were publicly disclosed.

Currently, both Caldwell and Robbins are trying to convince the Federal Transit Administration to extend a $250 million tranche for rail construction that’s slated to lapse at the end of the year.

The other companies listed as part of the C3G team were: John Hancock, Hatch Construction Management, Rizzani De Eccher USA, DTL, The Wilhelm Group, Soteria Co., IBI Group, Dan Brown and Associates, Systra International Bridge Technologies, WCIT Architecture, Walker Consultants, Minatoishi Architects, KSF, Wilsom Okamoto Corp., Apex Design, LKG-CMC Consultants Inc., and Zephyr UAS, Inc. ACS Infrastructure Development was listed as C3G’s lead operations and maintenance provider.

The other companies listed as part of the ITH team were: Plenary Group USA Concessions and Plenary Americas USA, Sumitomo Corp. of Americas and First Transit.

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