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Anti-rail group will appeal federal court decision

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An anti-rail group will appeal a federal judge’s ruling in late December refusing to halt construction on the city’s $5.26 billion rail project.

The group that includes former Gov. Ben Cayetano notified the federal court this week that it will appeal to the U. S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the Dec. 27 ruling by visiting federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima.

The group will also contest Tashima’s earlier rulings that threw out the group’s environmental and historic preservation claims.

Tashima did require the city to conduct more studies on the rail’s impact on Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako; the feasibility of an alternate downtown route through a tunnel under Beretania Street, and cultural sites along the 20-mile route from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

But the judge ruled construction can still proceed while the additional studies are conducted.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the appeal is not a surprise.

“Everyone has the right to appeal,” Caldwell said in a news release. “There are no benefits to this continued litigation. It only serves to drive up costs in legal fees and delays. … The trial court rejected nearly all their arguments.”

The mayor said the case has cost the city more than $2.1 million in outside attorneys fees.

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