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HonoluluTraffic.com v. Federal Transit Administration

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20029
Nos. 13-15277, (9th Cir., 02/18/2014)

The Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of activists' lawsuit challenging the construction of a 20-mile, high-speed rail project in Honolulu, Hawaii. The activists claimed that DOT, the Federal Transit Administration, and the city violated NEPA and §4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (DOT Act) in approving the project. Despite the activists' claims to the contrary, the EIS did not unreasonably restrict the project's purpose and need, and it adequately considered all reasonable alternatives. Nor did the defendants violate NEPA in refusing to consider the activists' proposed alternatives because they were already rejected in prior state studies. In addition, the defendants did not violate the DOT Act in choosing not to adopt a managed lanes alternative or bus rapid transit alternative. The defendants concluded that these alternatives were not prudent because they did not meet the project's stated purpose and need, and the record supports the reasonableness of that conclusion. And the defendants did not violate the DOT Act when it failed to fully identify and evaluate Native Hawaiian burial sites before approving the project. The defendants made a good faith and reasonable effort to identify known archeological sites along the proposed project route and developed an appropriate plan for dealing with such sites that may be discovered during construction.