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Rail project whistleblower lawsuit attracts federal scrutiny

The Associated Press
Rail project whistleblower lawsuit attracts federal scrutiny

HONOLULU — A rail contractor whistleblower says the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general has inquired about his claims.

A lawsuit filed by 55-year-old Edward Morris says he was fired last year from his job as a quality manager for Honolulu rail contractor Traylor Bros. Inc., the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

The $9.2-billion rail line is the largest public works project in state history and is already the subject of a federal investigation involving the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office, according to the newspaper.

The lawsuit filed in Honolulu circuit court in January claims Morris and others working on a rail segment voiced concerns “over the continued lack of adherence to construction quality, design requirements, and construction specifications” on the project.

Morris said he has been contacted by the transportation department’s inspector general, but his attorney clarified he has not yet been interviewed.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation awarded Shimmick/Traylor/Granite, JV a design-build contract for $874.7 million in 2016 for what is known as the airport segment, one of four major segments of the 32-kilometre rail line scheduled to open in late 2025.

Morris began work as quality manager in June 2017 and less than three months later he filed the first of dozens of “non-conformance reports,” according to the lawsuit, which also says he was harassed, intimidated and verbally abused by inspectors.

A Traylor Bros. attorney disputes Morris’s claims and the authority did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

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