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Judge hears arguments on rail project lawsuit

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:36 p.m. HST, Dec 12, 2012


A federal judge heard arguments this morning and said he will rule shortly on whether to issue a court order halting the city’s $5.26 billion rail project linking East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

A. Wallace Tashima, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge here to preside over the case, did not indicate whether he would grant an injunction that would effectively halt the project or a more limited order requested by the city that would halt work on the final downtown segment of the rail line.

Tashima ruled on Nov. 1 that environmental and cultural reviews for the project did not comply with federal transportation laws aimed at protecting parks and historic sites.

He ruled the city must reconsider an alternative of constructing a tunnel under Beretania Street and the impact of the project on Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako.

The judge also ruled the city must identify traditional and cultural Native Hawaiian sites along the route and evaluate whether they can be preserved and the project’s impact minimized.

Tashima, however, did not issue an injunction halting the project and scheduled the hearing today hear arguments on whether he should issue such an order and the scope of it.

The group that filed the federal lawsuit is asking Tashima to set aside the Federal Transit Administration’s record of decision that the city must supplement because of his Nov. 1 ruling.

At most, it would temporarily delay the project, the group maintains.

In addition, the group is asking Tashima to block the $1.55 billion federal funding for the project until the city complies with the judge’s ruling.

The group includes former Gov. Ben Cayetano, longtime rail opponent Cliff Slater and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends.

City and federal lawyers are urging Tashima to limit any injunction to work on the project’s fourth phase through downtown Honolulu.

In their court papers, city attorneys said Daniel Grabauskas, executive director for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, estimated that an injunction halting all construction could delay the completion of the project by seven months.

Construction has already been halted as a result of a Hawaii Supreme Court decision in August that held the city must complete an archaeological survey of the entire project before starting construction.

City attorneys said a federal injunction halting construction would increase the project’s cost beyond the costs associated with the high court’s ruling.

Grabauskas estimated that the additional cost of the project to be $149 million, city attorneys said.







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Kuniarr wrote:
A federal injunction halting the project until the judge's ruling is complied with woud lead to one of many unforseen events that would increase the cost of construction.

Events unforeseen since the project began in 2007 are many:
(1) Establishment of the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transit which would cost over $20 million a year in expenses
(2) The establishment of a Rail Security Department to provide security not only for the riding public but also for rail assets -such as the contemplated $5 million works of art worth (3) Premature awarding of contracts that lead to cost over run due to delay (4) Additional costs due to long delay caused by the court ruling (5) The GET surcharge collection lagging behind such that on the 6th year collection in 2012 has reached only 25% of projected instead of over 35% (the 6th year is 37.5% of the 16 year - period of collection)
on December 12,2012 | 12:24PM
localguy wrote:
Kuniarr - I disagree. Everyone at HART and Grabby Boy willfully failed to follow the law. Circumstances for not following the law are in black in white. These baboozes caused this problem, let them fix it with no more tax payer money. Does anyone think our rail will be built on or under budget, on time? No way with a start like this. Money pit rail getting deeper all the time.
on December 12,2012 | 01:24PM
Kuniarr wrote:
localcuy That's exactly my (4) Additional costs due to long delay caused by the court ruling.
on December 12,2012 | 02:46PM
localguy wrote:
Kuniarr - You missed my point. This was not an unforseen event. It was the direct result of incompetence.
on December 12,2012 | 08:47PM
localguy wrote:
Just another example of how backwards the Nei is compared to the mainland and other countries. We hire people with no quality rail experience to manage the program, select a non professional company to build it versus the world's rail experts - The Japanese, then rail management thumbs their noses at state laws, not applicable to them. No wonder the Judge rightfully slapped them down to the ground, telling them yes, state laws do apply to you, who do you think you are. Now more tax payers money will be wasted due to willful incompetence. Tourist come to the Nei as they have heard it is a living example of "South Part" a cartoon city with better management than the Nei. This is what we do, fail.
on December 12,2012 | 12:31PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
It just makes good sense for the Judge to block the $1.55 billion federal funding for the project until the city complies with the judge’s ruling. I wouldn't expect to see that check soon, if at all.
on December 12,2012 | 01:03PM
localguy wrote:
Maneki_Neko - Exactly. For HART and Grabby Boy, hold their feet to the fire for compliance, make them do their job. Until the judge is satisfied everything has been done correctly and verified by an outside source, no $1.55 billion for you to use. Point to remember, had these baboozes done their job, none of this would have happened. To listen to them try to spin their incompetence is sad. No integrity from anyone involved with rail, just got their hand out for more money.
on December 12,2012 | 01:22PM
localguy wrote:
Kuniarr - I disagree. Everyone at HART and Grabby Boy willfully failed to follow the law. Circumstances for not following the law are in black in white. These fools caused this problem, let them fix it with no more tax payer money. Does anyone think our rail will be built on or under budget, on time? No way with a start like this. Money pit rail getting deeper all the time.
on December 12,2012 | 01:26PM
Kuniarr wrote:
You are correct, localguy as far as the reason for the court ruling which I said is one of the unforeseen costs to the project.
on December 12,2012 | 02:48PM
localguy wrote:
Kuniarr - You missed my point. This was not an unforseen event. It was the direct result of willful incompetence. They knew there would be consequences, then try to spin it off.
on December 12,2012 | 08:48PM
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