HONOLULU, Hawaii - A pair of resolutions that could help restart construction of Honolulu's $5.26 billion rail project have been approved in committee and sent to the full City Council for consideration.
The council's Zoning and Planning Committee on Monday approved a measure giving a special management area use permit and shoreline setback variance to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/14J6WBN).
In a separate meeting, the council's Intergovernmental Relations and Human Services Committee approved a resolution authorizing an agreement among the authority, the city and the state Department of Transportation that allows the city to develop rail line sections on state property from the Kamehameha Highway portion of the project in Pearl City to the Ala Moana area.
Authority director Daniel Grabauskas said that if the council had waited until next month to consider the measures, another $3 million would have been added to the cost of the rail project.
"You are literally saving us millions of dollars by holding this special meeting today, so thank you," he told the zoning committee.
Approval of the measures by the full council Wednesday could mean a restart of construction Monday.
A lawsuit stopped the project on Aug. 27, 2012.
The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that archaeological reports had to be approved before the project could move forward.
The State Historic Preservation Division on Aug. 30 approved the reports.
Rail opponent Cliff Slater, the head of Honolulutraffic.com, a group dedicated to keeping elevated rail out of the city, said it's a bad idea for the council to quickly pass the resolutions. A lawsuit filed by his organization is pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Grabauskas estimates the city loses $200,000 each day the project is on hold. That did not impress Slater.
"If they lose (the lawsuit), that's peanuts compared to what it would cost them to start up and then shut down again," Slater said.
The Appeals Court expedited the hearing because of concern over the cost of delays and he expects a decision soon, he said.
Grabauskas told council members he is confident the city will prevail before the appeals court.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com
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