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Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to halt rail

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 5:08 p.m. HST, Mar 23, 2011

A Circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to halt the city's $5.5 billion rail transit project over the survey of ancient Hawaiian burial sites.

Circuit Judge Gary Won Bae Chang granted the city's motion for summary judgement this morning. The plaintiffs can still appeal and attorney David Kimo Frankel said its "somewhat likely" that will do so.

The non-profit, public interest law firm Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of Paulette Kaleikini, a native Hawaiian cultural practitioner who claims her ancestors are buried in the Kakaako area. The city split the rail project into four phases, and Kakaako is in phase four of rail construction plans. The city has not yet completed an archeological survey for Kakaako.

The archaeological survey for phase one has been completed and the city broke ground in Kapolei for the project in February. 

The lawsuit sought to halt the project until a survey of ancient burial sites along the project's entire 20-mile route could be completed.

Chang said state law does not prohibit splitting up construction projects into phases and doing the required archaeological inventories for each phase.

Kaleikini also sued the state saying the State Historic Preservation Division is responsible for enforcing Hawaii laws designed to protect the state's cultural and historic resources, including ancient Hawaiian burials.

Chang also granted the state's motion for summary judgement.

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