Friday, November 2, 2007

HI Superferry: One year ago today...

Superferry Protest @ Nawiliwili Park Superferry protest offers politicians stump
by Lester Chang - THE GARDEN ISLAND
Posted: Thursday, Nov 02, 2006 - 10:49:34 pm HST

Environmental groups plan to stage a car rally Saturday at Nawiliwili Park where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Randy Iwase is expected to argue for an environmental study for the Hawaii Superferry.

Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau, also has been invited and is expected to restate the same need.

Owners of up to 282 vehicles — the same daily number of vehicles the Superferry could unload at Nawiliwili Harbor — are expected to gather at the park, said Kalasara Del Viscovo, a Wailua resident helping to plan the event.

Iwase is scheduled to make his presentation at 3:45 p.m., and Hooser will give his talk at 3 p.m., she said.

Hooser cited the need for an environmental impact statement before the Legislature approved $37.5 million for improvements at state harbors for the ferry service.

Del Viscovo said the “EIS Drive-In” rally is being staged because Gov. Linda Lingle and the Legislature have ignored public demands for the study and because they have not complied with federal environmental protection laws.

Since government leaders won’t do either, “we are doing it ourselves (through the rally),” she said.

Environmental groups like Save Our Seas and the Surf-rider Foundation will be at the park to explain the justification for the study, Del Viscovo said.

Also invited to the gathering are Jim Brewer, a Green Party gubernatorial candidate, incumbent Kaua‘i County Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura and council challengers K.C. Lum, a retired Kaua‘i police chief, and Ming Fang, a Kilauea landowner.

The rally sponsors include People for the Preservation of Kauai, Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, Save Our Seas, Green Party of Hawai‘i, GMO-Free Kaua‘i and Malama Kauai.

The news release from the groups states Lingle ignored petitions signed by more than 6,000 residents asking for the study.

Proponents of the EIS were to have met Lingle on O‘ahu to discuss their concerns.

At the same time, state Department of Transportation officials and John Garibaldi, president and chief executive officer for Superferry, have said the EIS isn’t required because the project is not anticipated to create adverse impacts because it is a maritime industry.

The DOT didn’t require a Superferry EIS because the agency did not impose the same requirement on existing port users like Young Brothers and Matson.

Garibaldi has said his company has conducted smaller studies, though not the larger environmental study, because it wants to respond to public concerns related to the Superferry service — coqui frogs, drugs, homelessness and increased traffic congestion on Kaua‘i.

For one thing, Hawaii Superferry has worked with the Hawaii Invasive Species Committee — the umbrella organization for various Neighbor Island invasive species groups — to educate the public about ways to prevent the transporting of undesirable plants and animals, said Terry O’Halloran, director of business development for Hawaii Superferry.

“We are very proactively addressing environmental issues,” O’ Halloran said. “We are doing these things because we want to be a positive part of the Kaua‘i community.”

Del Viscovo said while she believes the project will adversely impact all of Kaua‘i, the area of most immediate impact from the Superferry is Nawiliwili Harbor — the point of entry and departure for the ferry service.

“The road there is really narrow,” she said, “And there are sharp turns in Nawiliwili.”

Contrary to Del Viscovo’s belief 282 vehicles will come off the Superferry at the harbor each day, O’Halloran said his company projects an average of only 110 vehicles a day — ranging from small vehicles to trucks.

At the same time, if 110 vehicles come to Kaua‘i daily, a likewise average number of vehicles will leave the island, O’Halloran said.

So as not to add to the island’s traffic congestion at peak travel times, Hawaii Superferry has adjusted the vessel’s daily arrival time at Nawiliwili Harbor to 5:30 p.m. and a departure time of 6:30 p.m., O’Halloran said.

The Nawiliwili Harbor facility also can accommodate a large number of vehicles so Kaua‘i motorists won’t clog roads while waiting to get on the Superferry, O’Halloran said.

While the Superferry has its critics, it also has its supporters.

“I am in support of the Superferry because it provides an affordable way for families to get to another island,” said Vince Perry, a winner from Kapa‘a. “But I just don’t know what it will bring to Kaua‘i.”

The first Superferry vessel is scheduled to begin operating between Honolulu and Maui and between Honolulu and Kaua‘i next July.

One of the two Superferry ships will come out of a Mobile, Ala., shipyard in mid-December, and put through sea trials before it heads to Hawai‘i, via the Panama Canal, to arrive in Hawaiian waters next May, O’ Halloran said.

That ship will make stops at state ports, including Nawiliwili Harbor, for islanders to see, before it begins official operation in July, O’Halloran said.

A second vessel is scheduled to begin service between the Big Island and Honolulu in early 2009.

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