HART officials start work addressing federal ruling

City has to provide additional documentation for three concerns cited by court

Published  10:47 PM HST Nov 02, 2012
HONOLULU -

A recent federal judge's ruling on rail could mean a big do-over for the project.

According to the ruling, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation needs to consider the cost and feasibility of a tunnel under Beretania Street as part of the rail route.

Opponents of rail say this could put a kink in the rail project.  

"We think that they're going to have to do some real homework on this and get the technical stuff down and it's going to delay the project," said rail opponent and Honolulu mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano.

If the city finds the tunnel is a viable option, court documents cite the city would have to withdraw its final environmental impact statement.

However, city officials are confident they can prove the underground route would not be a cost effective option for rail.

"What the ruling really says is, we just need to further document and explain why a Beretenia Street tunnel would  be too expensive and is a bad idea," said Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle.

As part of the ruling, the city will also have to take a closer look at rail's impact on traditional cultural sites and examine noise and visual impacts on Mother Waldron park.  Court documents cite "the project's impact on Mother Waldron Park will be quite serious."

As for the impact on culturally important sites, so far the city has only listed Chinatown as an area where rail would affect traditional cultural property.

HART says it has completed three-fourths of its survey on the traditional cultural property and the rest will be completed soon.

"Given the amount of time we know we have to work on the archeological inventory and the results to SHPD (State Historic Preservation Division) for that report we believe we can get this done." said HART CEO Dan Grabauskas.

When asked how much this extra work and documentation cost the city Grabauskas replied, "I don't have a number for you but I certainly don't think it will be an exorbitant amount of money."

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