Federal Court Allows Honolulu Rail Transit Project Construction to Proceed

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In an important victory for the $5 billion Honolulu rail transit project, on December 27, 2012 the U.S. District Court in Hawaii issued a judgment allowing construction of the first three phases of the 20-mile Project to continue pending the completion of additional environmental analysis regarding the last construction phase the Project in downtown Honolulu.  The Court’s judgment keeps in effect in Federal Transit Administration’s approval of the Project and the $1.5 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Project recently executed by the FTA and the City.  The Court’s judgment will allow the construction of the Project to continue on its current schedule.

In November 2012, the federal court granted, in part, the summary judgment motions of the City and FTA and rejected challenges to the Project brought under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  The Court also rejected all but three of the challenges to the Project under section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act.  The Court’s summary judgment decision requires the City and FTA to conduct additional analyses of three issues within the downtown Honolulu phase of the Project.   Construction of the downtown phase of the Project is scheduled to commence in June 2014.  

Nossaman represents the City and County of Honolulu in the federal litigation.