Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) is celebrating dual legal victories for Honolulu's rail project.
HART said the two federal courts ruled that the transit project had done everything necessary to comply with applicable federal laws and is allowed to move forward.
A panel from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Oahu’s elevated rail project complies with environmental, historic preservation and other laws.
Separately, at the trial court level in the same case, Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled that the project had looked at all alternatives regarding the rail route. Tashima also ruled that the project had properly considered and rejected a route involving an underground tunnel and ending at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus, as an alternative to the selected elevated route ending at Ala Moana Center.
Tashima also lifted an order blocking construction and most property acquisition activities in the City Center section of the project, which extends from Kalihi to Ala Moana Center.
Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO, stated, “We are pleased that both the Ninth Circuit panel and Judge Tashima ruled in our favor. These rulings reaffirm that we properly complied with the environmental process and studied all prudent alternatives. This is a great day not only for HART, but also for taxpayers of the City and County of Honolulu, who will be relieved to know we have finally come to the end of this costly legal battle.”
Grabauskas added, “These rulings were essential to keeping the project moving so that we can complete all the necessary work, studies and property acquisitions in the City Center area. This will allow us to bring this project in, as promised, on time and on budget.”
Opponents of the rail plan held a press conference on Feb. 18 to explain they had run out of legal options to fight the rail project.