By: Rick Blangiardi
From the outset of the creation of our $5.26 billion rail system, opponents have repeatedly questioned whether all the proper approvals and alternatives were secured before construction started.
On Friday, they won round one in a fight to prove they were right. The Hawaii Supreme court ruled that the state historic preservation division had no business signing off on the route until the city checked for native Hawaiian burials along all 20 miles.
That sends the lawsuit by the native Hawaiian legal corp. Back to the circuit court to resolve the matter.
The native Hawaiian group is asking the construction be stopped until the proper archeological surveys are completed, a new plan is created for dealing with such remains and that the Oahu burial council sign off.
Daniel Grabauskas, executive director of the Honolulu authority for rapid transportation, does not believe that all construction needed to be halted but that may suspend moving earth until more archeological study is completed.
In an interview about the ruling, Grabauskas made the unfortunate slip of saying "make no bones about the fact" that delays would occur, a choice of words I'm sure he regrets.
This rail project, while still needed in an urban area where traffic is said to be among the worst in the nation, needs to follow the proper laws and its administrators need to steer clear of costly errors such as this.
Rail deserves to be under intense scrutiny because all of the money and environmental impact at stake.
Let's hope that Grabauskas and his team gets its house in order and makes sure they make the correct decisions for the state's largest ever public works project.
We are all counting on them to get it right.