Thursday, November 1, 2012

Federal Court Issues Significant Ruling in Honolulu Rail Project Case

Federal District Court Judge Wallace Teshima issued a significant order today stemming from a challenge to the City's environmental review of its proposed rail transit project.

In his Decision, Teshima concluded as follows: (1) the City failed to complete reasonable efforts to identify above-ground Traditional Cultural Properties (TCP) prior to issuance of the Federal Transit Administrations' record of decision, pursuant to a federal transportation law related to historic resources; (2) the City failed to adequately consider the Beretania Street Tunnel alternative prior to eliminating it as imprudent from EIS analysis; and (3) the City failed to adequately consider whether the project will "constructively use" Mother Waldron Park, pursuant to a federal transportation law that requires analysis of indirect impacts to park resources.

However, Teshima sided with the City on several issues, including that managed lanes, bus rapid transit, and at grade alternatives were properly excluded from EIS analysis.

The next step is for the court to consider whether to issue a permanent injunction at this time and its terms.  The parties were directed by Teshima to brief this issue.

This case focused on federal environmental laws.  In a separate state court decision, the project's EIS was upheld.  A copy of the Teshima's decision can be found at

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