In latest round of cuts at embattled rail project, HART lays off more than 30 workers

In latest round of cuts at embattled rail project, HART lays off more than 30 workers
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the streamlining is needed. (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is laying off more than 30 workers, in the latest round of cuts at the financially-troubled rail project.

Sources said HART interim CEO Lori Kahikina eliminated the team that purchases or condemns land to make way for the rail system’s elevated guideway and stations.

Also leaving are most of the expert engineers certified for work on federal transit projects.

Hawaii News Now has repeatedly asked HART to disclose how many employees it has terminated this year, but it has declined to respond.

Kahikina told Civil Beat that a total of 48 of the rail authority’s 112 city employees have left since she came on board in January.

Some were voluntary, but sources say 32 of them were laid off last week.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the streamlining is needed.

“Candidly speaking, taking nothing away from anybody who has been laid off ... but there was a lot of redundancy and what we look to do is keep the best of the best,” he said.

Several laid off HART employees told Hawaii News Now that they’re concerned that the latest round of cuts could lead to further project delays and cost increases.

The cuts come as the state’s largest union has filed a grievance over a previous round of cuts at HART in January for failing to provide the necessary 60 days notice. That grievance is still pending.

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