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Rail opponents seek expedited hearing in appeal of federal ruling

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    Former Gov. Ben Cayetano

Plaintiffs in the federal case to stop Honolulu’s elevated rail project requested today to expedite in their appeal — a move they hope will lead to a court decision on the project before building can resume this fall.

The anti-rail group includes former Gov. Ben Cayetano, outspoken rail opponent Cliff Slater and University of Hawaii law Professor Randall Roth.  In December, visiting federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima refused to halt construction on the $5.26 billion rail project. Tashima did require the city to further study rail’s impact on Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako; the feasibility of an alternative downtown route under Beretania Street and the impact to cultural sites along the 20-mile route.

Opponents filed an appeal in February to overturn Tashima’s ruling. With Friday’s filed request for an expedited hearing, they hope to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by the end of 2013 — and ideally before construction starts again in August or September.

“We think it would be an unnecessary waste of additional money to resume construction prior to the court’s decision,”  Roth said Friday. “Nobody can predict with certainty what the court’s going to do but we believe we’re going to win the appeal.”

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