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$5B Honolulu Railway Violates Fed. Law, 9th Circ. Hears

08/16/2013 Law360

Nossaman Partner Robert Thornton was quoted in the Law360 article "$5B Honolulu Railway Violates Fed. Law, 9th Circ. Hears" regarding the argument to revive claims that city officials in Honolulu and the Federal Transit Agency violated federal laws by failing to consider transit alternatives before approving plans for the city's 20-mile elevated-rail project. 

Opponents of the project sued in Hawaii federal court in May 2011, however, in November 2012, the court rejected all challenges to the Project brought under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  The federal court also rejected all but three of the dozens of challenges to the Project under section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act.  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.

In a separate state court case, the Hawaii Supreme Court ordered the city to complete an archeological inventory to ensure the project will not unexpectedly disrupt any native Hawaiian remains or other artifacts before building the railway.  Mr. Thornton, who is representing the City and County of Honolulu, stated that the process is expected to be finished soon and construction could begin this fall.

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