Friday, January 4, 2002

Workers were busy on Dec. 28 building new facilities on the upper cliffs of Hanauma Bay -- a new interpretive center, snack bar, restrooms and offices.

Hanauma project’s
price tag climbing

Construction changes have
increased the cost by $1.3 million

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Through October, city officials approved nine construction change orders to the controversial improvements at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve that added $1.3 million, or 12 percent, to the original $10.6 million contract and pushed its completion date back by four months.

And City Managing Director Ben Lee said more changes likely will be added to the project as the administration deems necessary, noting that some are already being negotiated.

Despite the changes, Lee said the now-$11.9 million price tag is still less than the $13 million budgeted for construction of Hanauma Bay improvements.

He said the improvements -- which critics say create structures on the upper cliffs of the facility that are too tall and unsightly -- are justified because they are essential to ensuring that the public is well educated about the fragile underwater coral ecosystem.

City officials yesterday gave copies of five of the nine change orders to East Honolulu Councilman John Henry Felix and the Star-Bulletin. Felix has been asking for the reports since November, the Star-Bulletin since late last week.

"There were some discrepancies, and there was information that (the Department of Design and Construction) needed to clarify for me," Lee said. "I think the numbers just didn't jibe with other information they submitted to me, and also I wanted to clarify some of the information that's in the report."

The information on the five change orders is part of a report dated Nov. 16 that includes change orders made to five other city projects. The administration is required by law to report change orders exceeding 5 percent of original contract awards.

The contract change orders totaled $717,468.45. The change orders released include:

>> Removing a tree and hauling of debris to the dump and the installation of drainage pipes ($12,631.06).

>> Creating an addition dust barrier to add to an existing barrier ($13,048.44).

>> Hiring a security guard during construction off hours, including weekends ($55,000).

>> Removal of asbestos material, rerouting electrical lines that conflict with a new sewage pump station, and repairing of a water line (total of $73,033.92).

Another change order, for $563,755.03, is only described as "Part A: 147 of 189 sheets revised; Part B: 13 of 91 sheets revised." Lee said the change order probably included a number of design changes required or recommended by agencies, the facility's users or other people.

Felix said he is happy to be receiving some of the information he requested. However, he noted, the $13 million originally budgeted by the Council in 1999 was for a much larger, original scheme.

That scheme, which included moving all parking away from Hanauma Bay to a base near Koko Head Crater as well as a tram ride to the top of the crater, was nixed by Mayor Jeremy Harris after loud community objection.

Felix said he wonders how the project can still carry such a high price tag when those other segments were deleted.

Lee said copies of the four additional change orders will be available when Design and Construction gives him the information.

Meanwhile, Lee acknowledged even more change orders are expected.

"There are some pending change orders we're negotiating right now that also add to the project," he said. While the amount of additional money and time involved is not immediately available, he said, it will need to be below $13 million.

Such change orders are typical in larger projects, he said. "There are a lot of unanticipated items that come up during construction."

Lee said Oahu residents need to be reminded that the project is being paid for by $5 admission fees paid by non-Hawaii residents who enter the bay.

"These are fees from tourists," Lee said. "The debt service for the construction improvements will be paid for by the Hanauma Bay fund."

A local attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city on the grounds that the admission policy discriminates against nonresidents.

T. Iida Contracting Ltd. is doing the construction of an education facility, snack bar, office space and other improvements at Hanauma Bay. Completion is now slated for late March.

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