Friday, May 23, 2008

HI Superferry: PBN and Garden Island News 5/23/08

Kudos to Chad Blair. As far as I know, no other print media source reported on this. It is significant business news.

Also see:

See graphic and full article at:^1640574

Friday, May 23, 2008 Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
"Maui harbor plans pared as ships leave" by Chad Blair

"The departure of two NCL America cruise ships from Hawaii waters this year has led the state to significantly scale back plans for improvements to Kahului Harbor on Maui...

The initial allocation of $345 million for Kahului is now $202 million...

No one is complaining...

With the Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii no longer in operation locally, harbor officials say there is no longer a pressing demand for a new breakwater, cruise terminal and ferry and barge slip on the west side of the harbor basin.

"When NCL made the decision to redeploy two of its three vessels, the need for all of those harbor improvements changed," said Mike Formby, deputy director of harbors for the state Department of Transportation...

Should NCL decide to reverse course and bring back a vessel, or if some of its five foreign-flagged competitors decide to increase their local presence, the state could revisit the Kahului plan. But there has been no indication that will happen any time soon...

Plans for Kahului Harbor's east side, where most commercial activity occurs, remain on schedule. They include a new breakwater, upgrades to Pier 1's fuel line, strengthening of Pier 2B, acquisition of additional property, and paving and fencing of existing property...

The West Harbor area, home to Pier 5, also will receive some improvements. The leveling, paving and fencing of yard space, currently used as a coral stockpile, will allow Matson, Young Brothers and Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines to store autos, cargo and oversized equipment.

Formby and North hope the West Harbor space will relieve congestion on East Harbor facilities, especially with the Superferry adding a second Oahu-Maui run earlier this month.

"It takes up a lot of real estate," North said of the Superferry. "But as far as Matson is concerned, if for some reason there is a space constriction, we can always stack our containers. So, for next three to five years, we can handle a Matson ship and an oil barge at Pier 1."

The scaling back of plans for Kahului Harbor is welcomed by Maui residents who had worried harbor expansion would hamper recreational use.

"We are relieved," said Karen Chun of the advocacy group Save Kahului Harbor. "We are hopeful that [Formby] is restoring common sense and responsiveness to community input in the D.O.T. planning process."

"It's a surprise turn of events, but at least it makes sense," said Irene Bowie, executive director of another advocacy group, Maui Tomorrow. "But the changes don't rule out west side expansion. We are hoping that we can continue to show that paddlers, surfers and fishermen are using this space consistently."

Dick Mayer, a retired Maui Community College economics professor, said consumers will ultimately benefit from the decision to reduce the scope of the project. The $840 million in harbor improvements mostly will be paid through increases in harbor-user fees. "They realized they would not get paid-back funding from cruise ships and that there's uncertainty about the Superferry's future as a revenue source. Which means you have to transfer costs to Young Brothers and oil tankers, and that would be passed on to the general public," Mayer said. "Since harbor funding is statewide, not island by island, that means Oahu people would be paying for a pier and terminal and breakwater that we would not need."

And from The Garden Island News, these clips:
May 23, 2008 - KAUAI News
"Lawmakers update [New] Lihu‘e business group"
by Nathan Eagle - THE GARDEN ISLAND

"Kaua‘i state lawmakers yesterday updated the Lihu‘e Business Association on legislation that could enhance the future vitality of the island’s commercial heart.

Some 40 residents packed Duke’s Canoe Club in Kalapaki for the association’s first annual meeting, which included election of officers and a board of directors. Sen. Gary Hooser, D-7th District, and Rep. James Tokioka, D-15th District, talked about bills that passed in the 2008 session and legislation that fell short...

...Tokioka compared it to the Niumalu community which has been fighting for years for stricter emissions laws so they suffer less from the pollution that drifts through the valley from cruise ships docked at the nearby port. The state Legislature last session deferred a bill proposing a three-year pilot program to determine the level and environmental impact of air pollution caused by bunker-fuel burning in cruise vessels docked or moored at Nawiliwili Harbor. “Frankly, I’m concerned that Norwegian Cruise Lines wasn’t more cooperative,” Hooser said. “Why do we get dirtier standards than California?” NCL, the top cruise line serving Kaua‘i, fought the bill at the state level. The legislation was originally introduced as a ban on large commercial passenger vessels burning bunker fuel containing 1,000 or more parts-per-million of sulfur within a five-mile radius of Nawiliwili Harbor. Similar legislation to restrict what fuels ships can burn at ports is pending in Congress. California has a state law to burn low sulfur fuel. Hooser said cruise companies at the committee hearing told how ships burn the 0.5 percent fuel required in California and then switch to a dirtier fuel out at sea. He said if NCL is able to sail in and out of California on the higher grade fuel, why not in Hawai‘i? NCL officials have said the cost to convert to this cleaner-burning fuel would be significant, possibly adding thousands of dollars to each voyage and impacting the bottom line...

The lawmakers also answered questions about another controversial passenger vessel, the Hawaii Superferry...Hooser said the company should first establish reliability on its daily runs between O‘ahu and Maui. Then officials should open a dialog with the community...Although Hawaii Superferry has no legal impediments preventing it from servicing Kaua‘ has not sailed to Kaua‘i since August 2007 demonstrations blocked the ship from docking. “There’s a lot of bad blood,” Hooser said. “There were serious errors in judgement.” He noted the company’s failure to disclose all its lobbying expenses and clear attempt to circumvent the state’s environmental laws. Tokioka agreed, saying his concerns over Hawaii Superferry are over the process. He said he has heard from many students on sports teams on Maui who have used the ferry to travel to O‘ahu for events who have reported 'throwing up' because of seasickness."

Well, that about sums it up,
Aloha, Brad

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