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Judge allows Cayetano and others to remain in rail lawsuit

By Kevin Dayton

LAST UPDATED: 3:49 p.m. HST, Dec 12, 2011

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano and others who have joined in a lawsuit against the city's rail transit project will not be dismissed from the case, and will be able continue their court challenge, a federal judge has ruled.

Judge A. Wallace Tashima refused a request by the city and the Federal Transit Administration to dismiss Cayetano, University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law Professor Randy Roth, former Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Walter Heen, and the Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation from the case.

The city and the FTA argued Cayetano and the others should be dismissed from the case because they failed to raise their concerns about the rail project during years of administrative proceedings in the case, including the lengthy environmental impact statement process.

Tashima called that argument "premature," pointing out the city still has not produced a complete record of the administrative proceedings for the rail project. Tashima said it would be "impossible" at this stage of the case to him to determine whether Cayetano and the others actually participated in the administrative process or not.

The rail opponents are asking the court to require that portions of the EIS be re-done to more fully consider issues such as whether the route chosen for the 20-mile rail line is ideal, or whether the steel-wheel-on-steel-rail technology the city selected is appropriate for Honolulu.

The city and the FTA contend the city has already studied those issues at length during the EIS process and other administrative proceedings.

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