Honolulu expected to replace railway director after 3 years

HONOLULU — The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is expected to remove the head of its $9.2 billion rail transit project.

The authority’s human resources committee recommended replacing Executive Director and CEO Andrew Robbins, the city’s highest-paid employee, earning $317,000 annually.

Robbins’ three-year contract expired Sept. 4 and his employment agreement ends at the close of 2020.

The authority’s board plans to discuss reasons to terminate Robbins and a possible successor Thursday in a closed session.

Robbins could not immediately be reached for comment.

“It is expected that the (full) board will concur with the recommendation, and that a permitted interaction group will be formed to devise a leadership transition plan,” authority board Chairman Toby Martyn wrote in an email to staff Friday.

Honolulu City Councilor Ann Kobayashi said the move was “frustrating” because Robbins is “very capable.”

“Now is not the time to bring in somebody new. We’re at a very critical part of this whole project,” Kobayashi said.

Robbins, 62, spearheaded the authority’s recovery plan and steered the project toward the start of limited service next year.

The rail development, Hawaii’s largest public works project, has experienced a series of delays. The date for completing the first 10-mile (16-kilometer) segment of the line from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium was scheduled for December but is now set for March.

The final, downtown leg stretching 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) is expected to be the most expensive segment and the selection of a private developer has been pushed back several times.

City Council member Kym Pine said she is worried that bids may be too high.

“My constituents would prefer a delay than a project that skyrockets out of control where their taxpayer money is mismanaged and misspent the wrong way,” she said.

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