Saturday, September 15, 2012


Human Remains Discovery Stop Project Indefinitely

The first human remains to be discovered in the path of the Honolulu rail project have been unearthed in Kaka`ako by a crew conducting an archaeological survey for the project.

State Historic Preservation Division Administrator Pua Aiu said Thursday the bone fragment, believed to be Hawaiian remains dating to pre-contact times, was discovered Wednesday in a "nonburial site context" along with shell fragments and fire-cracked rocks.

The excavation appeared to have penetrated an old building site, revealing brick from a building foundation on each side of the trench, she said.

The bone was discovered at a depth of about 4 feet, she said. SHPD instructed the archaeologists working on the trench to leave the bone in place and continue excavating around it.

Dan Grabauskas, executive director of the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, visited the Kaka`ako site where the first human remains in the path of the rail project were discovered.

The $5.26 billion rail line is the largest public works project in Hawaii history, and the city has already agreed to pay more than $22 million in contractor claims because of delays.

Concerns that the discovery of Hawaiian burials along the rail route will delay construction were underscored Wednesday afternoon when a crew conducting the archaeological survey in Kaka`ako unearthed the first human remains discovered within the rail route.

The city has been surveying the 20-mile rail route in sections and has not completed the portions of the route in urban Hono­lulu where experts agree that burials are most likely to be found.

Last month the state Supreme Court ruled construction should not have begun on the $5.26 billion rail project until an archaeological survey was completed for the entire rail route.

In a unanimous ruling, the court found that rules governing the State Historic Preservation Division did not allow that agency to agree to the rail project until the city finished the survey to determine whether there are Native Hawaiian burials or other archaeological resources in the path of the rail line.

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