Monday, August 27, 2012
Rail opponents to file for injunction unless city stops construction today
by Larry Geller
Courthouse News Service has a pretty good summary of the litigation just concluded at the Hawaii Supreme Court which found that Honolulu inadequately planned its elevated rail project.
The Courthouse News Service is often able to present complicated issues in a succinctly worded summary with an independent viewpoint, and they have done so here. I noted that the writer referred to Kapolei as a “growing suburb,” which is accurate and free of the “second city” propaganda current in local media.
This is the least disappeared news in Honolulu today, of course, but it’s worth quoting just a bit of their article. Please read the entire article at the link.
Honolulu is plagued with traffic congestion in the country, and no one doubts that alternatives are needed.
But rail opponents say in the federal lawsuit that the technology is wrong: a raised, heavy concrete, steel-on-steel system that would be an eyesore, has brought more outside contractors than local jobs to Honolulu, and will leave taxpayers with an economic burden that will last their lifetime.
[Courthouse News Service, Setback for Giant Hawaii Rail Project, 8/27/2012]
This next is from the very end of the article. This refers to the press conference held outside the courthouse after the decision:
[City Councilman Tom] Berg said that when he was "grilling HART Director [Dan] Grabauskas" on whether he "had a 'Plan B' in the event HART was to lose any one of the three pending lawsuits against it ... Grabauskas continuously responded with the same answer: "We are confident that we will not lose any of the lawsuits, so we have not discussed a Plan B since we will prevail.'"
Local media reported that the rail opponents asked the city to stop construction by 8 a.m. today (Monday), or they will file an injunction.
You’d think that Plan B would be to complete a revised EIS, which would cost less than the city has been spending on PR (propaganda) to gain support for the project. And let’s see what happens—8 a.m. is just over an hour away.
I read the entire decision and it excoriates SHPD's Pua Aiu and the circuit judge (who is oddly not mentioned by name) saying usually it will allow the department that promulgates the rules to interpret them but because her testimony in court was so patently erroneous they rejected it. Same goes for the circuit court judges decision- they'd normally defer to him or her but the ruling was so obviously erroneous.
Sound like they just used "phasing" of the project to get away with skipping the step of digging up all the streets in Kaka`ako under the rail to identify where all the iwi are- the ones they KNOW about already- so they don't have to move the project- for which they fail to provide an alternative route for anyway. Then they’d claim they can't change it because they're already too far into it and never had an alternative, except the "no build" one which, if they've started already if obviously not possible. Plus the burial council had explained the whole thing in court but nobody- especially Aiu and the judge- listened to them. The SC said they can't begin the project until all four phases of the AIS (archeological inventory survey) for the whole project are done, not just do it by the time construction f that phase begins.
So in other words they will probably have to dig up all the streets and find the 'iwi then leave them there where they are and move the rail somewhere where it won't be on top of them.
I suspect it would be fine with many of us if the route were moved. Nimitz Highway is water on that side, a big waste. If it were (say) on Hotel Street going across to Young Street, people would be able to walk to the stations from both directions (makai and mauka). As it is, the in-town stations are really far away, too far for many (most?) people to walk.
But I'll stick to my wish that the people get to do the planning ourselves. We might have good reasons for one plan, one mode, one route, over another. The City Council might have put the line down Salt Lake if Cachola had a wee bit more power, and if the developers spoke up a wee bit louder, it would have gone through Mapunapuna. Calling it "developer-oriented transit" is quite accurate, I think. We need "people-oriented transit." Well, that phrase isn't likely to catch on, but I like it anyway.
Oh, people need restrooms. I'd vote to have them, if I had a vote on it, which I don't.
Yes, "We Want POT" signs carried by the mob outside City Hall could make headlines across the country.
Just testing readers to see if anyone would spot that.