HART’s Project Oversight Committee on Thursday will hear a request for an additional $21.8 million for contractor Frank V. Coluccio Co. for work in downtown and Kakaako.

The Honolulu rail authority this week will consider a request for an extra $21.8 million to connect homes and businesses to new backbone electrical infrastructure being installed through downtown and Kakaako as part of the Honolulu rail project.

The proposal for a contract amendment for Frank V. Coluccio Construction Company is the first of two anticipated requests for more money to make electrical connections along the urban rail route.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has grappled for years with the vexing problem of how to move infrastructure such as storm drains, sewer and water lines and electrical lines out of the way of rail construction.

Rail guideway columns near the OCCC along Dillingham Boulevard as constructions heads towards metro Honolulu.
Rail guideway columns line Dillingham Boulevard near the Oahu Community Correctional Center in 2022. The rail authority on Thursday will hear a request for extra funding to cover the cost of moving utilities and hooking up customers to new infrastructure along Dillingham and into Kakaako. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

In 2018 HART awarded a contract for up to $400 million to Nan Inc. to relocate an estimated 40 miles of utility lines running along the last four miles of the rail route, but that plan flopped. Progress under that contract stalled because HART was unable to get the necessary approvals for the utility work.

By the time HART terminated that contract in 2021, Nan had run up a tab with the city for more than $101 million, but had completed less than 10% of the necessary work.

Last year HART awarded a new $496.2 million contract to Nan for utility relocation along Dillingham, and awarded another contract for $217.7 million to Coluccio to relocate utilities along the rail route through downtown and Kakaako.

But according to HART Project Director Nathaniel “Nate” Meddings, those new contracts included only backbone infrastructure such as excavating and installing conduit through those neighborhoods. They did not include materials, equipment and labor for actually hooking up Hawaiian Electric Co. customers along the route.

Meddings told the HART board in March that items such as cabling and transformers to connect customers to the new infrastructure were not included in the two new contracts because HECO had not completed the designs for that work when the contracts went out to bid.

That extra cost for making the customer connections is now coming due. On Thursday the HART Project Oversight Committee will hear a request from rail authority staff for a $21.87 million contract amendment for Coluccio to handle that work in downtown and Kakaako.

HART used a sole-source procurement process to award the work to Coluccio, arguing that awarding a new contract to another bidder would increase the risk of construction delays. Meddings also said a change order under the Coluccio contract would be “substantially” cheaper than having HART do an entirely new procurement for the extra hookup work.

Coluccio is scheduled to complete the utility relocation work — including the hookups — in late September 2024.

Meddings warned the board earlier this year that the required hookups along the Dillingham area under the Nan contract will be pricier, and may add $50 million to $75 million to the cost of utility relocation work there.

Meddings said in March that negotiations were ongoing with Nan. If HART and Nan are unable to reach an agreement on how much the Dillingham hookups should cost, Meddings said the rail authority may put the work out to bid.

Meddings told HART board members the extra cost of the electrical hookups will come from rail’s contingency funds, and will not increase the overall cost of the 19-mile rail project from East Kapolei to South Street. The complete project is now budgeted for $9.93 billion, including financing costs.

The Project Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss the proposed amendment for Coluccio, according to meeting materials for the rail authority.

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