Saturday, July 26, 2014         


 Print   Email   Comment | View 54 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Ruling affirms choice of rail


A federal judge's acceptance of the city's overall environmental assessment of Oahu's rail project is a welcome stamp of approval. More-detailed review of cultural properties ordered by his ruling must now proceed with due diligence to enable construction to resume, but it brings huge relief that the judge rejected principal legal objections to the project.

From the outset, opponents of the rail project contended that alternatives — such as an express highway similar to the three-lane expressway in Tampa, Fla.; alternative rail technologies; or an improved bus system, embraced by lawsuit plaintiff and former Gov. Ben Cayetano — had been inadequately assessed in the project's final environmental impact statement.

That was not the case, ruled Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge presiding over the District Court case. In preliminary assessments, experts had found that the Tampa project "was not a good cost comparator," bus rapid transit would not alleviate traffic congestion and the steel-on-steel system would be superior to other rail alternatives, judgments that were "neither arbitrary nor capricious," the judge explained in his 45-page ruling Thursday.

Tashima's decision means the city will need to assess the rail's effect on Mother Waldron Park, a Kakaako park listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The judge ruled that "there is a great deal of evidence" that the rail line's effect on the park "will be quite serious," so the city will need to provide alternatives or "mitigate any adverse impact" to the park.

Tashima's ruling also calls for the city to "fully consider the prudence and feasibility" of a tunnel underneath Beretania Street to avoid above-ground presence involving historic sites, including Chinatown and the Dillingham Transportation Building. The cost could be enormous, and the city will need to put forth a reason not to dig.

Let's hope that Daniel Grabauskas, CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, is right in saying that city deliberations ruling out the feasiblity of this tunnel is actually "quite complete," that the issue is a simple matter of placing the tunnel assessment "within the EIS record."

While Tashima's rulings on the tunnel, Mother Waldron Park and cultural properties potentially delay construction further, they should not put an end to rail. In fact, construction is already on hold for archeological survey work along the entire 20-mile route, ordered by the Hawaii Supreme Court in August. Tashima's requirements could well occur concurrently, to keep as close to the project timetable as possible.

Delays due to the archeological work are estimated to cost $64 million to $95 million. There is considerable concern over how many more millions the work ordered by Thursday's ruling will cost taxpayers, and we need to hear details on those costs to gauge the depletion from the project's contingency fund. There also are questions of how this latest ruling will affect the pending $1.55 billion federal grant request.

However, we share the optimism of outgoing Mayor Peter Carlisle, who is "confident that a reasonable remedy can address the remaining issues in a timely manner." And Grabauskas rightly notes that Tashima's ruling "underscores that the majority of alternatives were given proper consideration," including bus transit, a system proposed by Cayetano in his mayoral bid against Kirk Caldwell. That key race will be decided on Tuesday's general election.

It's important to realize that with these two recent court rulings, the rail project appears to have cleared its highest legal hurdles. Indeed, some obstacles seem to have been self-made by lack of past thoroughness, and yes, there remains a Dec. 12 hearing before Judge Tashima for a permanent injunction to stop rail. But remedies are well under way to correct the missteps, and these legal lessons should make for a tighter, more accountable project going forward.

 Print   Email   Comment | View 54 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
MalamaKaAina wrote:
A welcome stamp of Disapproval!
on November 3,2012 | 01:42AM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
The Titanic rail fiasco is DEAD!
on November 3,2012 | 01:44AM
niimi wrote:
Yes, and now you can kill your Stah advataizah newspaper at 5386397.
on November 3,2012 | 09:14AM
autumnrose wrote:
Too late... SA gives it away free or $15/yr to new subscribers or mainland digital subscribers to boost subscription numbers & increase adverting rates...
on November 3,2012 | 01:59PM
niimi wrote:
Call 538-6397 and cancel your Star Advertiser subscription.
on November 3,2012 | 09:11AM
kainalu wrote:
Of coure, then you can't post on here. See ya!
on November 3,2012 | 09:23AM
kainalu wrote:
Another paper stake throught the ...
on November 3,2012 | 09:22AM
cabot17 wrote:
The court didn't disapprove of the whole project, just the Chinatown-Downtown section. An elevated rail line will certainly have significant visual impacts on historical and cultural landmarks in the Chinatown-Downtown area, as well as Mother Waldron Park in Kaka'ako. The court is saying that a Beretania Street tunnel is the better choice to avoid visual impacts on the historical areas. Most people will agree that an underground route will have less visual impacts than an elevated rail line through Downtown. The major problem is COST. A subway system through Downtown will be more expensive. However, the rail line is needed as a transportation alternative, and the historical sections of Honolulu need to be protected for future generations. I think we should provide the extra funds to build this project right. The Beretania Street tunnel is the logical and best route for the rail. It will cost more, but the cost is worth the savings to our cultural and historical heritage.
on November 3,2012 | 09:38AM
OldDiver wrote:
The court did not say a tunnel under Beretania is the better option. The city in fact already studied the Beretania tunnel and deemed it not feasible but did not include it in the report. They will simply include it in the report.
on November 3,2012 | 12:49PM
allie wrote:
We cannot afford this very wrong system.
on November 3,2012 | 02:32PM
Venus1 wrote:
We cannot afford not to do rail!!!!
on November 3,2012 | 06:53PM
rsgea wrote:
on November 4,2012 | 01:26AM
allie wrote:
agree. This very bad project won't take cars off the road or even produce many lcoal jobs.
on November 3,2012 | 02:32PM
Wazdat wrote:
more B$ from the SA
on November 3,2012 | 01:47AM
autumnrose wrote:
Wonder who writes these editors' obviously pro-rail biased views? I bet it's provided to SA by Jeanne Mariani-Belding, former Advertiser editorial page editor, now "INFO SPECIALIST" for HART... her salary is so OBSCENE that it is UNdisclosed on last public disclosure this summer.
on November 3,2012 | 01:55PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
My expectations of the Star-Advertiser was to present issues OBJECTIVELY without being a voice/ad for any side of any issue. I would have held them in higher regard but I also understand SA is a privately owned business and as such is entitled to do as they please. As long as people understand they are not objective in their editorials, you have to wonder what's in it for them?
on November 3,2012 | 08:38PM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
Well folks, her we have it, straight from the editorial dest of Honolulu"s great metropolitan newspaper, an affirmation to the age old question that has eluded the world's greatest minds. Pigs do, in fact, fly!
on November 3,2012 | 02:40AM
kiragirl wrote:
No! Only pigs that work at the SA fly!
on November 3,2012 | 05:07AM
niimi wrote:
I call it METROPARTISAN newspaper.
on November 3,2012 | 08:56AM
peanutgallery wrote:
This article is complete deception. Tashima asked both sides to prepare papers and return to court for further review.
on November 3,2012 | 04:21AM
Malani wrote:
Staradvertiser did their own analysis or better still interpretation. Way off base.
on November 3,2012 | 08:08AM
niimi wrote:
Cancel SA subscription by calling 538-6397. That's how.
on November 3,2012 | 08:58AM
kainalu wrote:
... and "Aloha" means good bye! No subscription? No posting.
on November 3,2012 | 09:24AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
This editorial is an excellent analysis of the situation. It's a good thing the Star-Advertiser editors took the time to thoroughly review the ruling and explain it language the ordinary person can understand. This cuts through the bogus claims made by Slater, Cayetano and their ilk about the need for a supplemental EIS or other time-consuming and costly remedies. The editorial quite rightly puts the judge's findings into perspective, making it clear that the Cayetano and other plaintiffs lost on their central claim, that the alternatives analysis didn't sufficiently consider their pet solutions of BRT and toll roads.
on November 3,2012 | 06:28AM
Sid_Hartha wrote:
Oh, so that makes the rail a wonderful idea? Not.
on November 3,2012 | 06:42AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
It was already a wonderful idea before the editorial. The Star-Advertiser's analysis just affirms that the City was correct in its assessment that Ben and Panos's BRT scheme is inferior to rail, as was Clif Slater's toll road ("managed lanes") solution. The federal court has now confirmed that the locally preferred alternative, rail transit, is the proper choice.
on November 3,2012 | 06:59AM
Malani wrote:
Lack of comprehension in reading causes you to be confused in what your read. Show me where the Federal Court said they confirm locals preferred rail.
on November 3,2012 | 08:12AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
BluesBreaker wrote: "It was already a wonderful idea before the editorial."

No, traffic relief for weary west side commuters was a wonderful idea. How it got turned into a train that goes from D R Horton's Ho'opili to the mall, avoids both Ewa and Kapolei, and somehow justifies a bunch of giant apartment building that are exempt from height restrictions and stand between Ewa, Kapolei and town is a TERRIBLE idea.
on November 3,2012 | 09:52AM
Venus1 wrote:
May the system prevail that benefits the 'seventh generation' Indian belief!!!!
on November 3,2012 | 06:55PM
Malani wrote:
Untill they hear the noise then and only then they won't think it a wonderful idea. But why wait to hear it when they have the choice to vote no on the 11th.
on November 3,2012 | 08:14AM
niimi wrote:
Cancel SA subscription by calling 538-6397. Just cancel it! When they are on the brink of shutting down maybe they will be less biased.
on November 3,2012 | 08:59AM
Malani wrote:
Because I disagree that does not mean I would want to cancel my subscritpion. Atleast I'm privilage by being in SA's forum.
on November 3,2012 | 11:22AM
Kuniarr wrote:
What was not included in by the plaintiffs was the fact that Stop-And-Go traffic congestion used to justify Rail was and is already moot.

Such that because Stop-and-Go traffic congestion that was the rationale for Rail was already shown to be preventable from happening by many of the State DOTs of the US. - Rail was not anymore necessary.
on November 3,2012 | 01:07PM
peanutgallery wrote:
You bumped your head.
on November 3,2012 | 02:43PM
Malani wrote:
To the cronies of Rail, and to all wanting this Rail, Tell us all with the increasing cost of your neglect in planning for this Rail what hidden surprises will you spring on us tax payers later down the road. Your bragging to receive Federal monies, well? where is it? From the beginning the people were mislead by you to believe that rail was to be something else. And now you say a tunnel under Beretania St and at the same time knock Ben Cayetano for an over pass or underpass? When will the people for rail wake up and see that this contractor CEO Dan Grabauskas that the City hired figures out what the next step will be as he goes along. Boy are we blessed to not have him as a CEO for building our homes. Staradvertiser, City Mayor of Honolulu, and to all who will want and will vote for this rail, the Judges' rulling did not say it was a victory. It said, get your act together and do the job the right way. Hey, you can use your own interputation I can use mine. Next week, the VICTORY will be settled when Ben Cayetano becomes our next Mayor. The people of Hawaii is barely making ends meet paying for the roof over their heads, putting food on the table, and other cost for survival. They don't want another tax deduction taking more food off their tables.
on November 3,2012 | 07:09AM
Eagle156 wrote:
The best way to describe today's editorial on rail is that it is "flogging a dead horse"
on November 3,2012 | 07:31AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Mother Waldron Park? Where the homeless camp? Where drugs and alcohol flow freely? Where the bathroom is every shrub? That Mother Waldron Park?
on November 3,2012 | 07:34AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Or as the HCDA says on its web site:

Mother Waldron Park, originally built in 1937, is located in the area bounded by Pohukaina Street, Coral Street, Halekwauwila Street and Cooke Street. It includes a historic one-story comfort station, two basketball courts, a volleyball court, an open field and benches along the historic boundary walls. The basketball and volleyball courts are used frequently by people who work nearby during the day and after work.

on November 3,2012 | 08:48AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Yes, the Mother Waldron Park that the City can't afford to maintain or police, but has billions to run a train through it and millions for public relations to convince us we need a train.
on November 3,2012 | 08:58AM
visitor wrote:
SA your bias is so blatant. Why didn't you put the story of the campaign contributors on the front page?
on November 3,2012 | 08:24AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You have to admire the loyalty that the SA shows to its advertisers. It mouths the Machine consistently even in the face of contrary facts. Not a lot of support for the average guy.

This is obviously a ploy to pump rail in the hope of pumping votes for pro-railers. Last minute cheer for rail. It would have been better if the fearless press had investigated the impact of another long term delay on that elusive $1.55 billion in Federal funds - the stuff we were told we would have by September.

on November 3,2012 | 08:52AM
niimi wrote:
I love the Star Advertiser's obvious, blatant bias and they just have to get run over by the anti-rail train.
on November 3,2012 | 08:56AM
niimi wrote:
Cancel your SA subscription. Call customer service department at (808) 538-6397
on November 3,2012 | 08:57AM
niimi wrote:
Ben will get into office and shutdown any of this pro-rail rhetoric. It will be glorious when we watch the OldDriver and Bluesbreaker squirm and squeal like girls.
on November 3,2012 | 09:11AM
niimi wrote:
By November 7th we'll see the sharp reduction in political ads and we can return to normal.
on November 3,2012 | 09:12AM
allie wrote:
SA is influenced by the rich.
on November 3,2012 | 02:33PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
To be clear, the judge didn't rule that this rail project was affordable or even a good idea. On 20 of the points, he ruled that the City had enough documentation to demonstrate they had not been "arbitrary nor capricious" in it's decision making. On three other points, he ruled that the City had been "arbitrary AND capricious."

That's all. It's not like the judge said, "awesome plan guys, I like what I'm seein'! " Trying to read any more into the decision does your readers a disservice. And aren't you the least bit concerned that with all the millions we've given HART and their many, many well paid consultants and their lawyers that is it wasn't easy for the them to win on all 23 counts? Ignoring cultural sites, a major park, and blowing off a tunnel is pretty sloppy work.
on November 3,2012 | 09:47AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
The fair headline would have said something to the effect: "Judge's Ruling Leaves Some Rail Issues Unresolved."
on November 3,2012 | 11:03AM
DABLACK wrote:
Now who will build the tunnel under Beratenia street ?? Another mainland/european company ?? Gee ! More money to spend. Do we have workers qualified to dig tunnels in water ?? Whea the jobs for the local guys ??
on November 3,2012 | 11:37AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Rail may be the choice from the Court Decision.

For many State DOTS of the US have already found a way of preventing Stop-And-Go traffic congestion from ever happening on a State or Inter-State highway.

By adopting and applying to our H-1 what many State DOTs of the US have been using we can prevent the nightmare of Stop-and-Go Traffic congestion from ever happening. Such that we do not need Rail anymore to avoid Stop-And-Go Traffic Congestion.
on November 3,2012 | 12:58PM
Kuniarr wrote:
One sentence was missing from my comment. Here it is again: Rail may be the choice from the Court Decision.

For many State DOTS of the US have already found a way of preventing Stop-And-Go traffic congestion from ever happening on a State or Inter-State highway.

By adopting and applying to our H-1 what many State DOTs of the US have been using we can prevent the nightmare of Stop-and-Go Traffic congestion from ever happening. Such that we do not need Rail anymore to avoid Stop-And-Go Traffic Congestion.
on November 3,2012 | 01:02PM
Kuniarr wrote:
One paragraph was missing in my comment. Here it is again. Rail may be the choice from the Court Decision.

Except that Honolulu has no need for Rail as an alternative to the nightmare of Stop-and-Go traffic congestion on the H1.

For many State DOTS of the US have already found a way of preventing Stop-And-Go traffic congestion from ever happening on a State or Inter-State highway.

By adopting and applying to our H-1 what many State DOTs of the US have been using we can prevent the nightmare of Stop-and-Go Traffic congestion from ever happening. Such that we do not need Rail anymore to avoid Stop-And-Go Traffic Congestion.
on November 3,2012 | 01:01PM
Otherwise, SA's opinion/interpretation regarding Judge A. Wallace Tashima is nothing but SA's opinion/interpretation supporting their political candidate Caldwell and the rail contractors waiting to devour the taxpayers multi-billion dollar money once Caldwell gets elected. The bottom line is a well planned project do not see obstacles like this rail project.
on November 3,2012 | 01:07PM
honokai wrote:
They don't own us. They can't buy us. They can't corrupt us. Please vote.
on November 3,2012 | 05:14PM
Latest News/Updates
Volley Shots
Fey, Enriques on MJNT

Political Radar
Wilhelmina Rise, et al.

Court Sense
Cold War

Political Radar
Climate change

Island Crafters

Warrior Beat
Empty pit

Political Radar

Political Radar
`Progressive hero’