National Trust for Historic Preservation Files Brief in Support of Federal Lawsuit Challenging Honolulu’s Rail Project

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A powerful ally with more than 300,000 members nationwide and thousands of preservation partners in all 50 states has filed an amicus brief yesterday in support of a federal lawsuit challenging the validity of the city’s Environmental Impact Statement for its $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project.

National Trust for Historic Preservation, a congressionally chartered, privately funded, non profit Washington DC-based organization, which is the Recipient of the National Humanities Medal, was established in 1949 to educate and advocate for America’s historic places.


The federal lawsuit, et al vs. FTA and the City of Honolulu, was filed last Spring by eight plaintiffs including former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, Retired Judge Water Heen, Businessman Cliff Slater, University of Hawaii Law Professor Randall Roth, Dr. Michael Uechi, Small Business Hawaii’s Entrepreneurial Foundation, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends and Outdoor Circle.

Portions of the 32-page brief, provided by, said: “This lawsuit addresses the failure of federal, state, and local agencies to comply with Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act—among other serious legal deficiencies—in connection with the permitting of the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project (“Project”).

“This massive elevated rail project will cut through the historic core of Honolulu, Hawaii, and will also adversely affect other historic properties along its 20-mile length, including the Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark District.

“Unlike other federal historic preservation laws, such as the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 4(f) contains a substantive prohibition on the construction of transportation projects requiring the “use” of historic sites, park and recreational areas, and wildlife and waterfowl refuges, unless (1) there is no prudent and feasible alternative to using the resources and (2) the project includes all possible planning to minimize harm.”

Cliff Slater, founder and spokesperson for, said: “The support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the most important national organization in the field of historic preservation, will be most helpful to our efforts in defeating the Honolulu rail project.”

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye is Hawaii’s strongest and most influential advocate the Honolulu rail project. His wife, Irene Hirano Inouye, has served on the board of directors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Peter Boylan, spokesperson for Inouye, said today: “Irene Hirano Inouye is a strong supporter of the Honolulu Rail project and no longer serves on the Trust’s board.”

The board of directors did not vote on organization’s decision to file the amicus brief.

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