Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Honolulu Rail Update for November 17

Historic Hawai‘i Foundation continues to participate in the Section 106 consultation process for the Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor. The process is working towards a Programmatic Agreement (PA) that will become a legally binding commitment for avoiding, minimizing and mitigating adverse effects to historic properties within the 20-mile rail corridor. Adherence to the PA, once it is finalized and executed, becomes a condition of federal funding and approvals for the project.
Photo above by Roger Benezet: The Hawaii Employers Council Building is one of over 33 sites to be adversely affected by Honolulu's Proposed Rail
HHF provided written comments on the draft PA dated November 2, 2009. After reviewing the City’s response to HHF comments, provided on November 13, HHF found the City’s response to be inadequate, leaving the issues unresolved. HHF has asked for further review and clarification from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on the outstanding issues. In her communication to FTA, Executive Director Kiersten Faulkner stated that HHF recognizes that compliance with section 106 is the responsibility of the federal agency. “I hope and expect that these issues will be resolved prior to the PA being finalized,” Faulkner wrote.

The final PA is executed by the FTA, the State Historic Preservation Division and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Invited signatories will include the City’s Department of Transportation Services and the National Park Service. All consulting parties are also invited to concur in the agreement.

“The Programmatic Agreement is still a work in progress,” said Faulkner. “We will continue to review and comment on each iteration until HHF’s concerns are addressed. At that point, we will determine whether or not to be a concurring party to the agreement.”

Faulkner explained that being a concurring party to the PA is not an endorsement of either the process or the rail project as a whole, but would indicate whether or not HHF agreed impacts to historic resources were adequately evaluated and mitigated. HHF intends to continue to have a role in the ongoing protection, preservation, avoidance, minimization and mitigation for historic sites affected by the project, and to ensure that the stipulations of the agreement will be implemented in a way that appropriately identifies, protects and mitigates harm to historic resources.

“HHF has been clear throughout the consultation process about our expectations for what the PA needs to address,” Faulkner said. “If those expectations are met, we will concur with the agreement; if not, we won’t. In either case, we will continue to work to ensure that the project incorporates a sensitivity to preservation issues and limits impacts on historic sites and properties.”

Read more about the historic sites affected by the rail...