Honolulu Rail Transit Project on Track

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BY HARVEY BERLINER – A Sept. 28 article by Honolulutraffic.com (“Change Orders Likely Coming on First Honolulu Rail Bid”) irresponsibly bases its story on information from a “highly reliable” yet unnamed source on how Honolulu rail project contractor Kiewit Pacific “apparently” offered their low proposal contract price.

The “source” claimed that Kiewit’s technique to determine the column supports for the elevated rail system – called “tip-grouting” – will result in a “large change in conditions change orders” and drive up the cost of the project. These inaccurate statements based on an anonymous source demonstrate a lack of understanding of the terms of Kiewit’s contract.


A negotiated change in price due to a change in conditions would only occur if soil conditions are found to be substantially different than the conditions defined in the Geotechnical Baseline Report provided by the City.  The use of tip-grouting as part of the support work for the guideway is a separate issue.

The City’s specifications allow tip-grouting of drilled shafts with prior written consent of the City.  Kiewit sought and obtained that consent during the Proposal preparation period for the possible use of tip-grouting on approximately 60 of the drilled shafts in three specific areas where their investigations showed that such methods may be warranted.  This represents approximately only 17 percent of the total drilled shafts for that phase of construction.

Kiewit’s firm price presumably anticipates that they will be able to successfully demonstrate to the City that these shorter, tip-grouted support shafts will provide adequate foundation for the elevated rail guideway.

In the event that the shorter, tip-grouted shafts do not prove adequate support and longer shafts become necessary, the financial risk falls solely on Kiewit, not the City.

Harvey Berliner is the Deputy Project Officer, Design and Construction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project