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In a letter to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Judge Susan Oki Mollway wrote on behalf of the district court judges that the current Environmental Impact Statement “fails to give adequate consideration to the Beretania Street Tunnel Alternative.”
“The significance of this letter is that you’ve got every federal judge on this island somehow being motivated to do what probably hasn’t been done in any other state and that is to come out collectively against a certain issue,” former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano said.
Judge Mollway also said in her letter that the proposed route did not accomplish its original intended goal — relieving traffic congestion on Oahu’s west side.
Now, the proposed route ends at Ala Moana Center. Part of the original intent was to provide transportation to University of Hawaii Manoa campus.
Judge Mollway says in her letter that the Beretania Street Tunnel Alternative was not given any consideration.
“The Beretania Tunnel is an option that they should have considered. And considered seriously. You can’t just say ‘It costs too much money.’ You can do things to try to offset the cost like shortening the routes, for example,” Cayetano said.
The letter from Judge Mollway was sent to HART and to the Federal Court of Appeals where rail opponents will have their case heard on Aug. 15.
“There are a number of laws that we believe the city and the FTA have violated in this single-minded pursuit of elevated heavy rail,” rail opponent Randy Roth said.
The court has been involved in the rail issue often, most recently urging HART to consider the impact of rail on Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako.
Analysts say a Beretania Street Tunnel option would add $960 million to the cost of the rail project and add two years to its completion date.
For it’s part, HART said late Thursday afternoon, “All comments…will be given full consideration, including Judge Mollway’s.”
The city points out that the letter was submitted as part of public testimony on the draft EIS and doesn’t have any legal impact on the project.
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