Rail opponents give up fight after court decisions favor city
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Three years and $3 million in outside attorney fees came down to this day as rail supporters celebrate and opponents admit defeat.
The rail fight is over. The city won two huge judgments essentially justifying all the work that's been done to this point.
"The public should know if this was an extra exercise to review the work we did, we got an A plus today," said Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO.
"The major issues have been addressed thoroughly, competently, openly and transparently to the courts and to the people," said Ivan Lui-Kwon, HART Board Chair.
An injunction stopping work in the city section of the route has also been lifted. Now there are no legal obstructions standing in the way of the $5.3 billion project to build an elevated train from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.
"It's now time to get on with the transit project to provide mobility to those that need it," said Donna Leong, Corporation Counsel for Honolulu.
The opponents also spent a million dollars in legal fees and have come to the end of the line.
"Our preliminary decision is that there is little likelihood of prevailing in any further legal action. Therefore, today's rulings conclude our legal fight," said Cliff Slater, rail opponent with HonoluluTraffic.com. "We are proud of the fact that we did everything possible to stop the project. If nothing else, we brought closer public attention and scrutiny to it and furthered the taxpayers' understanding of the environmental harm that the rail project will cause and what its future costs will be."
"We believe in our system of justice and today the courts reached a decision and the nature of that decision is such that we think our battle in court is over," said Randy Roth, rail opponent and attorney.
Opponents still don't agree with the rulings or the project itself, but they realize it's time to let it go.
"We've said for the last two or three years the last thing that was open to us, short of lying down on the rails, was the legal issue. I'm getting a little too old to be lying down on the rails," said Slater.
So how will the City celebrate?
"The best thing we can do is put our nose to the grindstone and get back on track because we are behind schedule particularly with property acquisition because of the lawsuits," said Grabauskas.
Now it's time to catch up. The first 10 miles are supposed to be open in just three years.
Of course someone else can sue the city and the rail at anytime. But right now there are no legal challenges trying to stop the project.