Rail project needs $27.1M for safety gates at stations [The Honolulu Star-Advertiser]
(Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 05--Today board members overseeing Honolulu's rail project will consider approving an additional $27.1 million to add safety gates at the 21 stations along the route.
Called platform screen gates, they would help prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks.
However, the safety feature was not budgeted for Oahu's planned elevated rail system.
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Dan Grabauskas first addressed the oversight in April. Board members on HART's project oversight and finance committees will decide whether to add the funds during their 10 a.m. joint meeting today.
"It was intended to be that there would be platform screen gates or at least the possibility of it ... but no one ever budgeted for it and I don't know why," Grabauskas, who has served as HART's executive since April 2012, told the Star-Advertiser's editorial board on Wednesday. "But it's the right thing to do."
The added cost would be covered by the rail project's contingency fund, which now stands at $658 million, Grabauskas said. Several favorable contracts have increased the contingency fund in recent months by about $14 million, he added.
Eventually HART board members will have to consider another safety feature that also has not been budgeted: The project lacks a power-failure backup system that would allow the driverless trains to make it back to the nearest station in the event of an outage.
On Wednesday, Grabauskas said he didn't know when the board would look at that feature, and he didn't yet have a cost estimate.
The platform screen gates will be made of tempered glass with sliding door panels, and three companies bid on the work, Grabauskas said. Farmington, Conn.-based Stanley Access Technologies, a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, bid the lowest on the work and was recommended by Ansaldo Honolulu JV, the contractor designing the island's rail operating system.
During his tour of European rail systems earlier this summer, Grabauskas heard officials who manage similar rail systems call the screen gates a top priority, he said.
HART Deputy Director Rainer Hombach will make a presentation to the board, complete with security surveillance video scenes of close calls at other rail systems without the screens where passengers fell onto the tracks.
"Unfortunately it's not an unusual occurrence in transit systems that people fall," Grabauskas said Wednesday. "Most driverless systems around the world ... are doing this."
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