Those for and against ruling call federal ruling a 'victory'

Federal judge sides with rail opponents on 3 points

Published  8:33 AM HST Nov 02, 2012
HONOLULU -

Several plaintiffs, including former governor Ben Cayetano, sued the City & County of Honolulu saying the rail project violated federal environmental and historic statues.  On Thursday, the judge sided with the plaintiffs on three main points.

"The lawsuit was not about stopping the rail," said rail opponent Panos Prevedouros. "It was about addressing the flaws and the judge found at least three significant flaws that will have significant paperwork with cost and construction and repercussions."

Under the three points, Federal judge Wallace Tashima ruled the city failed to take into account the significant impacts of the rail project to Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako. The judge sided with the plaintiffs with regard to failure to identify above-ground traditional cultural properties and and that the city did not thoroughly look at building a tunnel under Beretania Street as part of an alternative solution to the rail line.

"The federal court has given us some work to do to supplement these three areas that we've already submitted," said Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO Dan Grabauskas.

Grabauskas says this ruling should not delay rail any further than it already has been.
All construction on rail has stopped due to a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling.

"Because we already in that temporary halt there's not addition negative effect on construction because we are already in that temporary halt positions," said Grabauskas.

Mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano, who is listed a plaintiff in the lawsuit says he thinks the ruling will delay rail.

"We are very pleased with the ruling, the court ruled on three different issues the city violated the law.
This thing is going to be delayed because you can't proceed because you have to do a supplemental EIS for a tunnel, but not just a tunnel but the impact on the other two sites." said Cayetano.

Cayetano's opponent sees the ruling as a victory as well, but for the city.
He says with the judge siding with the city on twenty out of the twenty-three claims put forth by rail opponents shows rail is moving in the right direction.

"The FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) was done properly when claims were made they were not, light rail was dismissed and brt (bus rapid transit) was considered and dismissed, these are real victories." said Caldwell.

HART will work on its supplemental environmental impact statement and both sides will meet again on December 12th.  The judge will hear arguments from both sides and see if a resolution can be made.

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