HI rail authority chairman resigns amid claims of mismanagement on $6.5B project

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  • The chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has resigned after city officials questioned the $6.5 billion rail project’s management, Hawaii News Now reported.
  • Honolulu’s City Council Chairman Ernie Martin publicly asked that Dan Horner, as well as executive director Dan Grabauskas, resign after a city audit revealed shaky finances, incomplete cost records, budget overruns and insufficient system operation and maintenance plans.
  • Horner’s resignation is effective immediately, and he told reporters that he stepped down because he didn’t want to draw needed attention away from the project.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell had appointed Horner, a former bank CEO, to his second term on the authority last year, and Caldwell said he would start the process to replace Horner immediately. Horner wrote to the Council that he hoped his resignation would allow a better “working relationship” between the authority, the city council and other city officials.

The rail project is the most expensive public works project in Hawaii’s history, and concerns about its increasingly expensive tab has been the topic of discussion among city officials for several years. Some have estimated that total overruns could reach $800 million, according to Hawaii News Now.

In another high-profile controversy over rail line construction, the California High Speed Rail Authority is under increased scrutiny from lawmakers after a Los Angeles Times investigate questioning its $64 billion bullet train’s cost projections and overall plan. After an initial round of legislative hearings, the authority adjusted its construction plans to first start the project with a less expensive leg of its planned route to reduce costs and draw investor interest. Most recently, the Times reported change orders on the project’s first phase alone could hit $400 million, with a potential of $95 million or more to come.

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