Fellow Story

Scheuer on conflict between rail line and burial grounds

Fellow(s): Jonathan Scheuer

The issue of historic preservation is a key element in the controversial rail project because, as the route approaches the Honolulu terminus at Ala Moana Center, it passes through one of the largest concentrations of iwi in the state: Kakaako. This district, say the experts, was once an area of sand dunes, and the sandier soil is where Hawaiians preferred for burial sites because it wasn’t appropriate for other uses and it was easier to dig there.

In addition, central Honolulu, supplied with drinking water in multiple springs, was densely populated for centuries, said Jonathan Likeke Scheuer, vice chairman of the council, which now stands at the center of the discussion. And in the view of the council, that fact should have weighed heavily in the alignment of this segment, he said, which is why the survey should have been done much earlier.

“The core issue is rail could theoretically take a number of routes to get between Kapolei and Honolulu,” Scheuer said. “The exposure of burials would be significantly lower if you go more mauka.”

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