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JUDGE DISMISSES RAIL PROJECT LAWSUIT 

(Wed., Mar. 23, 2011)— The City and County of Honolulu prevailed today in a lawsuit seeking to halt the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.

             “We’re pleased with the decision, and we will continue to keep rail transit moving in the right direction,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle. “Today’s ruling underscores the fact that the City has complied with applicable laws and that the process met the proper requirements.” 

            Circuit Court Judge Gary Won Bae Chang this morning ruled in favor of the City and State, granting the City’s motion for summary judgment. The case alleged that the City and the State did not follow State laws on protection of Native Hawaiian burials. 

            Judge Chang also denied a separate motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Plaintiff to stop the project until conclusion of a trial on Plaintiff’s contention that an Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS) had to be completed for the entire 20-mile Project alignment before work in the Project’s first phase could begin. 

            An AIS is a study which identifies and documents historic properties and burial sites in a specific area.

            In his ruling, Judge Chang concluded that the City and State have complied with State law, and that the law allows a separate AIS to be completed prior to construction for each phase of the rail project, as the City had planned. 

            “The Court’s decision was based on State law as it is written, and was made after hours of argument before the Court and deliberation by the Court,” said Corporation Counsel Carrie Okinaga. “I am thankful for the assistance of Pete Manaut, Esq. of the Carlsmith Ball law firm in successfully defending this matter.” 

            The Federal Transit Administration, the City, the State, and other groups have entered into a Programmatic Agreement that governs how historic properties, including burials, will be treated. Under that agreement, an AIS has been completed for the first phase of the project and an AIS for each of the remaining three sections will be completed prior to the final design and construction work in those areas.  

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Media contact: Louise Kim McCoy, Mayor’s Office, 768-7798.