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Judge in packed courtroom hears arguments in rail lawsuit

By Kevin Dayton

LAST UPDATED: 2:32 p.m. HST, Aug 21, 2012

Federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima heard two hours of arguments Tuesday in a federal lawsuit that seeks to stop work on the city’s $5.26 billion rail project, but gave no clear indication of how he will rule in the case or when.

About 100 spectators packed the second-floor courtroom, and more than a dozen people stood at the rear of the courtroom during the hearing to listen to arguments after every chair was filled.

The suit alleges city and Federal Transit Administration officials violated federal environmental law in the planning of the 20-mile Hono­lulu rail line.

Lawyers for the city counter that the voluminous record of the rail planning effort demonstrates the FTA and city rigorously followed the requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal law.

Participants in the lawsuit have suggested it may be weeks or months before Tashima issues a decision in the case.

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