U.S. Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima handed down a judgment and partial injunction on Honolulu's rail lawsuit Thursday.
According to the ruling, the city will be able to continue construction on Phases 1 through 3 of the rail project. The city can prepare Phase 4 engineering and design plans and other pre-construction activities but cannot start construction of Phase 4 until an archaeological survey is completed. Phase 4 covers the urban Honolulu portion from Middle Street in Kalihi to Ala Moana Center, where construction was not expected to begin until June 2014.
The ruling keeps the rail project on track by upholding the federal Record of Decision.
"Essentially, the judge issued the order that we had requested, but for some small changes, so I think we're pretty happy with the way things turned out," said Gary Takeuchi, Honolulu Deputy Corporation Counsel.
"This ruling is very reasonable, and is essentially what the City asked for,” said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle. "It will allow construction to resume after compliance with the Hawaii Supreme Court decision, while other work will continue. And the City can address remaining issues in a timely manner without undue burden."
"This is the news we had had hoped for," said Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas. "The judge's ruling allows us to complete the remaining work requested by the court, while keeping the project on schedule. These additional studies will be completed next year, well in advance of when construction was scheduled to begin in the City Center area. Oahu residents can look forward to seeing their rail system fully operational in 2019 as planned."
"Oahu residents can look forward to seeing their rail system fully operational in 2019 as planned."
- HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas
On Friday, Cliff Slater, of honolulutraffic.com, said, "Judge Tashima issued his final ruling yesterday and that allows us to at last appeal both this ruling and the others that he has made over the 19 months that this case has taken."
The ruling remands the case to the Federal Transit Administration.
The ruling also directed the plaintiffs and defendants to each bear their own litigation costs.
The city says it spent $2 million of taxpayer money on the lawsuit.