The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 12:20cat

Honolulu Rail Project Underway

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The Honolulu rail project will have 21 stations and will remove 40,000 cars from the road each weekday The Honolulu rail project will have 21 stations and will remove 40,000 cars from the road each weekday

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) is expected to open bidding on $1.3 billion worth of contracts for the planned Honolulu Rail Project this week. The controversial $5.2 billion project was approved by voters in 2010 and will be completed in two phases with the first phase operational in 2017 and the second in 2019. A rail system on the island of Oahu has encountered strong resistance since the idea was first proposed in the 1960s and was the main issue of the 2008 Honolulu elections, but the project is now moving forward and it has strong federal support. Those opposed to the project cite the project’s cost, potential for cost overruns, and increased traffic during the construction phase as their main concerns with building the rail system. Honolulu already has some of the worst traffic of any city in the United States, and it is expected to get worse as work begins on building the tracks.

The rail line will run from East Kapolei to the Ala Moana Center, a 42-minute trip, with 19 intermediate stations. The elevated rapid transit system’s cars will be powered by a third-rail electrification system. The 21-mile long line will operate from 4 a.m. until midnight with trains running every 5 minutes during peak hours and every ten minutes otherwise. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation purchased 80 cars and plans to use two-car trains with a total capacity of 400.  Each platform and train car will have free wifi. Riders will also be able to bring bikes and surf boards on the train.  HART created a single fare system that will allow riders access to Honolulu’s bus system as well. There is currently no information available about the price to ride on the rail line.

So far 90 columns have been erected along the proposed route. Workers have also finished 200 of the 5,200 concrete segments that will sit atop the columns and be necessary to finish phase 1 of the project. The casting yard will be able to finish about 12 segments each day.  As construction begins in earnest, HART will release weekly traffic disruption reports on their website to keep commuters informed on the areas to avoid while traveling around Honolulu. In addition to minimizing traffic delays, HART is trying to mitigate four risk factors during the project to ensure it is completed on time and on budget: increased material costs due to Hawaii’s remote location, interest rate increases, actual vs. planned general excise tax surcharge revenue growth, and the availability of construction sites to avoid delays.

The city of Honolulu and private companies are capitalizing on the rail project by investing money to develop new neighborhoods along the rail corridor. City officials would like to increase the population density in areas closest to the line’s stations by creating new residential apartments and condos in high-rise buildings.  Private companies plan on building new restaurants, stores, and possibly a new hotel along the western portion of the line.  As a whole, the Honolulu Rail Project is the largest public works project in Hawaii’s history. Once finished, it will take 40,000 cars off the street every weekday. HART hopes that the finished rail line will meet their “vision statement” of mobility, reliability, land use, equity, and sustainability.

Sources: Civil BeatBizjournals

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