HONOLULU — The troubled Honolulu Rail project will have a permanent executive director.
Andrew Robbins will be the project’s new leader starting in September, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation announced on Monday.
Robbins will earn a base salary of $317,000 per year plus housing and transportation money.
“I really just want to be a part of the solution any way that I can,” Robbins said. “Hopefully I can provide leadership to a project team and get to provide confidence to the public, our elected officials, and all of our stakeholders.”
Robbins, 59, comes from Canadian-based Bombardier Transportation and replaces Dan Grabauskas, who stepped down in August 2016.
Robbins has experience in public passenger rail equipment, infrastructure, construction management and airport transit, according to the project board. Robbins is also a licensed professional engineer in Hawaii.
The appointment comes amid growing questions about a $2 billion funding shortfall for the project.
“He’s going to have a full plate,” Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor said. “He’s going to have to resolve difficult and complex issues in a short period of time that need to be addressed immediately in terms of cost containment, in terms of the recommendations of various audits, in terms of working with the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) to ensure that HART (the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation) comes up with a financial plan.”
Robbins replaces interim executive director K.N. Murthy, who is under contract until December and plans to stay on to help with the transition.
Lawmakers are gearing up to hold a special session in August to tackle the funding shortfall.