Bone fragment found on Honolulu rail route

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Sep 14 2012 08:51:24 AM HST

Archeologists find human remains in the construction site of the rail transit project.

HONOLULU -

Many warned it would happen and it did.  Archaeologists confirm they have found the first human remains in the construction of the Honolulu rail transit project.

The sealed trench sits at the corner of Cooke Street and Halekauwila Street.

It was here that a single bone fragment, a few inches long, was found.

Just the day before, archaeologists sifted through layers of dirt beneath the sidewalk -- the find of what some believe could be part of a leg bone and other cultural artifacts that drew added scrutiny to the work underway.

"This is one indicator that there is more potentially to be discovered.  We don't know yet what the soil will find," said Oahu Burial Council Chair Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.

Wong-Kalu says the council hopes to act as a go-between for the Hawaiian community and state and city officials.  She was called to the site Thursday to see just what was found and where.

"I did appreciate seeing that they were going very carefully with the shovels.  They were down there doing hand excavation and that was a plus on their behalf," said Wong-Kalu.

The discovery came on the same day that the contracted archaeological firm told the council that nothing of significance had been found along the work being done from Kapolei to the urban core.

"No particular finds as of this date.  We found a lot of field deposits which we expected to find, but so far, there have been no outstanding archeological discoveries," said Cultural Surveys Project Manager Matt McDermott.

That changed by Wednesday afternoon, when the state and the city were notified by email that a site visit might be needed on Thursday.

Crews finished filling a second trench late Thursday with a type of temporary slurry seal.

Workers were expected to be digging additional trenches in an area on Dillingham Avenue Friday.

The State Historic Preservation Office said the bone fragment was kept in place.  Archaeologists will continue to excavate the area to get more information about what else might be found in order to best plan.

It's believe the rail design for this area has yet to be done, and the support columns could go in other places other than where the trenching is underway.

The plan was to dig four trenches along Halekauwila Street.  As of late Thursday, they have done two.  Crews aren't expected in this area on Friday.  We will see what happens on Monday.

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