The opening date for limited passenger service on the Honolulu rail has steadily been pushed back in recent years. On Wednesday, the chair of the volunteer board overseeing the transit project said it might be pushed back several months further.

Colleen Hanabusa, the former Hawaii congresswoman who’s now serving her second stint as rail board chair, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii program that she expects passenger service to begin early summer 2023.

“I’d like to see it happen sooner than that because we were originally talking about March,” she said.

Rail hammerhead pier Waipahu
Hammerhead piers, pictured in the foreground, support rail’s future Pouhala station in Waipahu. Rail officials have said cracks forming in such station-supporting piers on the westside could be the project’s next big problem. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

She cited the recent discovery of growing cracks in many of the large concrete structures supporting westside stations, known as “hammerhead piers,” as a reason for her estimate. 

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is currently waiting on final reports from its consultants and the engineering firm responsible for the design of the piers to recommend how intensive those repairs should be.

Until recently, HART had hoped to turn the first 10 miles of the rail line over to the city for service by the end of the year. This past summer, however, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said that the cracking issues would likely push that opening back to early 2023. 

“Bar nothing else unexpected happening, I would like to see it before early summer,” Hanabusa said Wednesday. “But, you know, that’s a perfect-world situation.”

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