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Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation files suit against rail

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 5:38 p.m. HST, Feb 1, 2011

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation is suing the city and the state on behalf of a native Hawaiian cultural practitioner to halt the city's $5.5 billion rail project.

The lawsuit, filed in state court yesterday, says the city did not complete, as required by law, an inventory survey of archaeological sites, including ancient Hawaiian burials, along the rail's designated route before starting the project.

The Federal Transit Administration granted the project its final environmental approval earlier this month, giving the city the go-ahead to begin construction. The city is seeking $1.5 billion in federal funding for the project.

The lawsuit's plaintiff, Paulette Kaleikini, was also the plaintiff in a lawsuit in which the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled last year that native Hawaiians have the right to challenge construction plans that disturb Hawaiian burial sites.

The state is a defendant in the current lawsuit because the Department of Land and Natural Resources is responsible for enforcing state laws designed to protect state cultural and historic resources.

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