Judge sides with city over rail sites

Published: May. 17, 2012 at 10:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has won a favorable ruling in an ongoing lawsuit over recreational and historic sites threatened by the rail project.

A judge reduced the number of disputed sites from more than 40 to fewer than 10.

Among the sites no longer at issue: Piers 10 and 11, the Tamura Building, Keehi Lagoon Beach Park, and Pearl Harbor.

Rail opponents who filed the original lawsuit say today's ruling does nothing to change their claim that the city failed to do enough environmental study.

Click here to read the Order on Defendants' Motions for Partial Summary Judgment

The following is a news release from HART:

A favorable ruling today in the federal lawsuit against the City's rail transit project reduced the number of disputed recreational and historic site claims from more than 40 to fewer than 10.

"This is a significant and positive ruling that narrows the litigation," said Dan Grabauskas, Executive Director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. "We appreciate the court's well-reasoned analysis."

The ruling by Ninth Circuit Court Senior Judge A.Wallace Tashima, sitting as a District Court judge, held that the plaintiffs had no standing to challenge certain site evaluations with respect to Piers 10/11, the PacificWar Memorial Site, the Makalapa Navy Housing Historic District, the Hawaii Employers Council, the Tamura Building, Ke'ehi Lagoon Beach Park, Queen Street Park and any other sites not mentioned in the plaintiffs' standing declarations.

The court dismissed additional claims with respect to the Pearl Harbor Landmark and the Merchant Street Historic District because the plaintiffs had waived them by failing to properly raise their concerns during the environmental review process.

The City will seek to formally dismiss remaining claims by a separate motion, scheduled to be heard in oral argument on August 21, 2012. released the following statement:

The City's PR release today that the Judge's ruling is a "significant" ruling is totally overblown.

What is "significant" is that our most important claims that, a) the City/FTA did not properly evaluate transportation alternatives under either Section 4(f) or NEPA, and, b) our most important sites Chinatown, Aloha Tower, Dillingham Building, Native Hawaiian burials, etc., all remain in play.

The fact that they won on peripheral sites such as the Hawai'i Employers Council building and the Makalapa Navy Housing Historic District, has little impact on our core claim, to wit, the City/FTA did not rigorously study transportation alternatives that avoid severely impacting the city's downtown historic waterfront area.

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