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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Honolulu agency completes archaeological survey for transit-rail project


The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has completed the fieldwork required for an archaeological inventory survey (AIS), marking a "significant step" toward resuming construction on the city's $5.3 billion transit-rail project later this year, HART officials said in the agency's February newsletter.

Construction crews from Royal Contacting, archaeologists from Cultural Surveys Hawaii and HART's cultural monitors recently wrapped up their AIS work ahead of schedule. The purpose of the AIS was to identify potential archaeological, historical and cultural resources, and to assist rail project staff members in their design of the elevated guideway.

The 20-mile, 21-station Honolulu Rail Transit lline will transport riders to West Oahu, Pearl City, Aloha Stadium, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Honolulu International Airport, downtown Honolulu and Ala Moana Center.

The study became necessary after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled last year that the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) violated its rules by giving the rail project the green light to proceed before an archaeological survey was completed for the entire rail route.

In response to the ruling, HART temporarily halted construction and sped up work to complete the AIS on the portion of the route not yet surveyed.

Archaeological remains were found at seven sites, all in the City Center section. HART set up a protocol for the treatment of such finds in coordination with the SHPD, the O'ahu Island Burial Council and other stakeholders. If burials are left in place, HART would be able to adjust the final project's design to accommodate that request, the newsletter stated.