Hawaii approves transit archaeological survey, construction could begin in a month

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's (HART) rail transit project could resume construction as early as September after the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) approved the archaeological survey reports. The approval also allows HART to begin permit applications.


Construction was stopped last year when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the archaeological survey work should have been completed for the entire rail route before construction in East Kapolei began. HART had completed the studies for the first half of the alignment from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium and was in the process of completing studies for the remainder of the route at the time of the court’s decision.

Working closely with SHPD and the Oahu Island Burial Council, HART completed the archaeological fieldwork in January, two months ahead of schedule. Workers excavated more than 400 trenches along the rail route as part of the archaeological study, resulting in reports totaling more than 8,000 pages.
The archaeological survey reports were approved this week for the entire alignment and applications for the project’s Special Management Area Use permit are being submitted to the City Council for review and approval.

“This approval is a major step forward,” said HART Executive Director and CEO
Daniel Grabauskas. “We are now working with the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting to submit the necessary permit applications to the City Council for their review and approval. Getting back to work after the year-long legal delay is essential to completing the project on time and on budget ― that’s our goal.”

The first 10 miles of the rail system from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium is expected to open in 2017, with the full 20-mile line opening in 2019.