Professor Randall Roth: HART Blames Massive Cost Overruns on Lawsuits to Stop Rail. It’s a Lie.
by Dr Panos Prevedouros PhD, FixOahu, July 16, 2017
There were two lawsuits. The one in federal court briefly affected the City’s ability to buy land in the downtown segment, but had no impact on rail construction or construction bidding.
The other lawsuit was brought in state court by Paulette Kaleikini. She sued because the City had started construction without first completing an archaeological study, as is required by law. A unanimous state Supreme Court ordered construction stopped until the City completed the study, which took 13 months. Blaming Ms. Kaleikini is comparable to blaming an abuse victim for seeking legal protection. The City and its contractors simply ignored the law (and the law's purpose) in their rush to get construction beyond a point of no return. The dollar impact of the state lawsuit was slightly more than $39 million, according to HART.
While the federal lawsuit did not stop or even slow down rail construction, it did provide access to FTA’s internal email that referred to the City’s “lousy practices of public manipulation,” use of “inaccurate statements,” culture of “never enough time to do it right, but lots of time to do it over,” the observation that the City had put itself in a “pickle” by setting unrealistic start dates for construction, and concern about the City’s “casual treatment of burials.”
The federal lawsuit took longer than it needed to take because the City’s lawyers used every trick in the book to drag it out. They wanted our legal costs to soar, which they did. Raising the money simply to see that lawsuit to a conclusion was like crawling over a constantly expanding field of broken glass. The City spent more than $3 million on lawyers and expert witnesses, and the delay increased costs by another $3.3 million.
According to HART, the lawsuit delay costs come to about $46 million, see figure above, which is only 0.46% of the current cost of HART rail. Rail's final cost before it started construction was proclaimed to be $5.17 Billion, by mayor Carlisle. Rail's current cost was stated at $10 Billion by mayor Caldwell. HART current cost overrun is 93.4%, of which 1% is due to the two lawsuits.