Rail bone discovery expected to take months to settle

Rail bone discovery expected to take months to settle

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Now that the first bone has been found along the rail route the focus turns to what to do with it and how long that will take.  There will need to be an investigation, then a report and a review of that report. Then a decision will need to be made on what to do with the bone.  It's a process that takes months and that's for each bone found.

The city continued work looking for iwi kupuna or ancestral bones.  Today work was on Dillingham Boulevard in Kalihi where a new trench was dug.  Workers inspected the dirt, took samples, wrote notes and hauled away a dumpster of dirt.

Over in Kakaako where the first bone was found at Halekauwila Street and Cooke Street, the steel plate covered the trench and equipment was left on top.  No work happened today although people are expected to be back there next week to start the iwi investigation.  That could take months.  Then the state has 30-45 days to review the burial treatment plan.  They'll then decide to move the bone or leave it there and move the pillar or route to not disturb it.

"I can't speak for the Burial Council but their past actions have usually been to leave in place," said William Aila, Department of Land & Natural Resources Chair.  "We're going to have to take a look at the context in which burials are found then decide based upon that information."

The bone found may have been brought in by accident hauled in with dirt during previous construction, but that wouldn't change the process legally.

"The context right now as we know is its likely fill brought in from someplace else.  The area around Cooke Street and Kakaako is an area that is a combination of Native Hawaiian burials but there is also a lot of landfill in that area filling in for projects," said Aila.

Further complicating matters Hart says there are 10 private property owners that may fight allowing the city to look for bones on their land.  If owners hold their ground it could lead to condemnation and could months if not a year delay before the city is allowed to dig the necessary trenches.

"Why have they not talked to owners before this? All that negotiation could have been done ahead of time," said Cliff Slater, HonoluluTraffic.com and rail opponent.

It's another reason Slater says the rail is sinking.

"My advice to the city would be, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging," said Slater.

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