Honolulu Rail Project Legal Problems Mount

Wendell Cox
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Wendell Cox

By Wendell Cox – According to the Hawaii ReporterHonolulu’s rail transit project has lost a major legal test in The Federal Ninth Circuit Court, as Judge Wallace Tashima ruled in  HonoluluTraffic.com v. Federal Transit Administration et al that the city of Honolulu had violated federal environmental law on three counts.<

The plaintiffs included are a coalition of environmental, civic, political and taxpayer interests, including former Governor and mayoral candidate Benjamin Cayetano, University of Hawaii Law professor Randall Roth, Retired Judge Walter Heen, retired businessman and transportation expert Cliff Slater, Dr. Michael Uechi, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Outdoor Circle and the Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation.


The plaintiffs and defendants differ strongly on the impact of the ruling, and the defendants are to return to court in December seeking a permanent injunction against the project.

University of Hawaii Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros told the Hawaii Reporter that the decision would require environmental planning revisions that could take up to 2 years.

This setback is in addition to a previous unanimous Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that had already required construction to be suspended and which could delay project for at least a year, according to the Hawaii Reporter. The Supreme Court in Kaleikini v. Yoshioka, ruled that the city of Honolulu failed to comply with the state’s historic preservation and burial protection laws when it did not complete an archeological inventory survey for the 20-mile route before starting construction.


Wendell Cox is principal of Wendell Cox Consultancy (Demographia), an international public policy firm and specializes in urban policy, transport and demographics. He has provided consulting assistance to the United States Department of Transportation and was certified by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration as an “expert” for the duration of its Public-Private Transportation Network program (1986-1993). He has consulted for public authorities in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and for public policy organizations and lectured widely. He serves as visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (a national university) in Paris, where he lectures on transport and demographics. See more at Demographia: (www.demographia.com)