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Nossaman Obtains Decision Allowing Completion of $5 Billion Honolulu Rail Transit Project

rotating photo of the project design phasesNossaman's client, the City and County of Honolulu, achieved a major victory in the battle over the City's $5 billion, rail transit project.  In a decision of national importance for rail transit and highway projects, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected NEPA and Section 4(f) challenges to the 20-mile Honolulu Rail Transit Project. HonoluluTraffic.Com v. Federal Transit Administration, No. 13-15377 (9th Cir. February 18, 2014). On the same day, the District Court for the District of Hawaii dissolved a temporary injunction on construction in the downtown Honolulu portion of the Project. HonoluluTraffic.Com v. Federal Transportation Administration, No. 11-0307 AWT (D. Haw. February 18, 2014). The two decisions remove the last legal barriers to completion of the $5 billion project which will connect West Oahu with downtown Honolulu and serve major commercial and tourist destinations, including Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu Airport, downtown Honolulu, and the Ala Moana Center.

The decision has national implications because it recognizes that federal transportation agencies may (1) define a project's purpose and need and the range of alternatives based on the objectives described in an approved regional transportation plan, and (2) narrow the range of alternatives based on prior state and local studies of project alternatives.

Nossaman acted as lead counsel to the City and County of Honolulu and Nossaman Partner Robert Thornton argued the cases in the Ninth Circuit and the District Court.

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