Honolulu City Council addresses rail's impact on historic sites - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu City Council addresses rail's impact on historic sites

Kawika McKeague Kawika McKeague
Wayne Yoshioka Wayne Yoshioka

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - The Honolulu City Council voted Tuesday to allow the city administration to enter into an agreement to address the impact Honolulu's rail transit project will have on historic sites.

The Oahu Island Burial Council expressed opposition to the agreement fearing it does not do enough to safeguard against the desecration of ancient burial sites along the route, especially in Kakaako.

"The burial sites themselves are the physical manifestation of our spiritual connectivity as modern day Hawaiians. To remove them without cause and concern diminishes who we are as Hawaiians. It disrespects who they were as a people ... as a person," said Kawika McKeague, chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council.

City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka did not promise humane remains will not be moved to make way for rail, but in testimony before the council he said the city is sensitive to the concerns of native Hawaiians.

"We realize how important the iwi issue is. We want to make sure the iwi are respected and treated in the proper manner," Yoshioika said.

The city hopes to begin construction on the rail project in December. The project could have been delayed had the council voted against the agreement on historic sites.

The "historic sites" agreement still needs to be approved by the Federal Transit Administration, the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation before construction on the rail line can begin.

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