HonoluluTraffic.com v. FTA

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: 02-18-2014
  • Case #: 13-15277
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Hurwitz
  • Full Text Opinion

In considering alternatives to a proposed transportation plan, a party may rely on findings and studies that precede the proposed plan when determining that certain alternative proposals are imprudent.

A consortium of groups and individuals (“Plaintiffs”), sued a number of governmental bodies (“Defendants”) in 2011. Plaintiffs opposed Defendants’ planned high-speed rail system (“the Project”), which was designed to deal with Honolulu’s purported status as the nations’ “second-most congested metropolitan area.” Defendants first argued that the Ninth Circuit lacked appellate jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs’ appeal. The panel found appellate jurisdiction appropriate either based on the constructive finality of the judgment or because the dismissed claims concerned injunctive relief. Plaintiffs argued that the Project violated provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”), and the Department of Transportation Act (“DOTA”). The panel held that Defendants’ Environmental Impact Statements properly identified the Project’s objectives and appropriately considered proposed alternatives, as required by NEPA. The panel held that Defendants were not required by DOTA to conduct independent studies and were “entitled to rely on the findings of studies” not associated with the Project when determining that certain alternatives were imprudent. Further, the panel held that Defendants made the “good faith and reasonable effort,” as required by NHPA, to identify and mitigate damage to archaeological sites impacted by the Project. AFFIRMED.

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