Attorney: City halts rail construction - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Attorney: City halts rail construction

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KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation Attorney David Frankel said it appeared that the City halted construction of the $5.3 billion rail project Monday.

Paulette Kaleikini and Frankel won a major victory in the Hawaii Supreme Court on Friday. In a unanimous decision, the high court required the city to conduct a full archeological study for the entire 20-mile project before it can build.

Monday was a pivotal day in the Honolulu rail project. If the City did not stop construction, critics may have tried to obtain a restraining order based on Friday's ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Frankel said he met with City and rail officials Monday afternoon and based on the meeting he offered the following summary:

"It is our understanding that the City has halted construction of the rail project. The City would like to:  (1) complete a few short-term tasks for public safety (e.g., backfilling a trench) (2) continue longer-term maintenance activities (e.g., erosion control measures) (3) complete the archaeological inventory survey and (4) miscellaneous activities.  The City is currently working on a list that would describe these activities with specificity.  Attorneys for Paulette Kaleikini and the City are in discussions regarding whether any of these activities should be allowed to proceed.

For all intents and purposes, construction of the project has been halted although there may be some narrowly tailored, low-impact exceptions."

Meanwhile, Honolulu Mayoral candidate, Ben Cayetano Monday sent a letter to Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and Daniel Grabauskas, Executive Director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, calling on them to halt construction and design work on the Honolulu Rail Project. "The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that the City's commencement of the Honolulu Rail project was illegal," said Cayetano. "As such, the City should immediately call for a stop to all design and construction work on the project."

Cayetano stated in his letter that "in the event the archeological study discovers massive iwi and burial sites in the path of the current rail route, significant changes may have to be made. By allowing the design and construction work to continue the City is running up millions of dollars in costs--costs that will ultimately have to be borne by the taxpayers of Honolulu."

 HART released the following statement Monday afternoon:

"HART has not yet determined the final details with respect to the recent state Supreme Court decision. In the meantime, in order to avoid additional litigation costs and until we are able to obtain guidance from the circuit court, no new construction, including ground-altering activity, will be done until the archaeological survey work is completed."

"HART is working with its contractors to determine what work will be necessary for public health and safety, to secure and maintain the job sites, or to otherwise responsibly wind up ongoing activities. All parties involved have agreed to work together to address any issues that may arise in the coming weeks."

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