Businesses and residents have warned about the ‘danger’ of railway construction on the Kalihi highway

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) – Dillingham Boulevard businesses, customers, schools and homeowners are about to experience major disruptions for three years or more due to rail construction.

Honolulu officials are paying the Rapid Transit Authority — and the contractor it is paying $500 million to relocate facilities along the route — on Thursday for the first meeting with stakeholders about the changes.

Some worry that the work is so disruptive it could put them out of business.

Denise Soderholm is the owner of the state’s only certified handicap vehicle dealership. As of November 28th, due to the construction, she may not be able to control vehicles coming and going to her job.

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“That can’t happen,” Soderholm said. “If I can’t log in, how can I log in a customer? How do I pay my electricity bill if I can’t find a customer on my lot? How do I pay my employees? “

Soderholm said she negotiated with HART and the city for 10 years and moved three years ago, buying property away from the train line.

But she said the city took until this July to approve permits — too late to act.

She joined the throngs of people on Thursday — asking how Dillingham is going when it’s down to two lanes and side streets are closed overnight.

Contractor Nan, Inc. is being paid $496 million to move utilities such as water, sewer, gas and electricity out of the way of the upcoming construction.

Project manager Mitch Mizokami has been asked repeatedly how long the assets will withstand disruptions.

“It’s hard to imagine how long we’ll be working in front of each driveway,” he replied. “The opportunity is to work face-to-face with each business for the duration of the project.”

Construction is slated to be completed in the first quarter of 2026. However, utility relocations have previously faced delays because of difficult-to-predict utility backlogs under Dillingham, including Na as a contractor.

The ground zero of all the challenges of this project will be the bridge over the Kapalama canal.

Nan now plans to dig microtunnels under the waterway for high power lines suspended from giant concrete poles. The canal is surrounded by several busy roads and has junctions at both ends of a short bridge.

Mizokami didn’t shy away from the challenge.

In particular, the intersection near the bridge is considered a hazard in terms of traffic control.

Soderholm was also unhappy that the virtual meeting did not allow her to speak her case in person. “I think they don’t want to face the community. They are going to destroy the community,” she said.

HART Communications Director Joy Manahan said subsequent meetings may be in person.

More detailed information about the Dillingham project and the contractor is available on the HART website.

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