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The Hawaii Superferry Updates

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Here are some updates about the Superferry that is scheduled to begin service in July of 2007 and some of the obstacles/concerns that it faces.


Source: Honolulu Advertiser

With less than a year until its first trip between islands, Hawaii Superferry has moved operations into high gear. So have its opponents.

While ferry officials were making preparations last week to move into their new 10,000-square-foot office space at Restaurant Row and start hiring what will eventually be about 300 employees, critics were equally busy making plans to delay the July 1, 2007, startup date of ferry operations.

Despite a lawsuit and other potential obstacles, the Hawaii Superferry is progressing on schedule to begin service on time next July. The company's first $90 million ship is about 80 percent complete and will be ready for sea trials by the end of this year.


Maui County Council members on Friday debated whether the county should join a civil lawsuit that could effectively block ferry operations until a lengthy environmental review of harbor plans is conducted.

Despite the lawsuit and other potential obstacles, ferry officials say they are progressing on schedule to begin service on time next year: The company's first $90 million ship is 80 percent complete and will be ready for sea trials by the end of the year.

Meanwhile ramps and barges are being built in China, at a total cost to the state of $40 million, that will allow up to 866 passengers and 282 vehicles to board the four-story, 340-foot-long catamaran in less than an hour.

"We've stepped things up in the last few months," said John Garibaldi, Superferry chief executive officer.

Critics, especially on Maui, want to slow the process. Backed by a coalition of environmentalists, farmers, small-business men, paddlers, harbor users and others, the County Council earlier this month unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution asking the state to delay Superferry operations on Maui until a harbor master plan and environmental review are completed.

"We're open to the ferry, but there are a lot of questions that still haven't been answered," said Maui Councilman Michael Molina. "All we're asking is what's the rush? Let's slow down and get this done right."

A artists rendering of the Hawaii Superferry



Superferry officials say they are working to address the concerns. In one major concession, they have agreed to scale back the initially planned twice-daily sailings to Maui to one visit instead, a move that will allow the ferry to arrive in Kahului mid-morning, rather than at lunch time when traffic congestion surrounding the port is at its worst. In another development, traffic studies commissioned by the ferry and made available to The Advertiser last week show potential congestion problems around port areas in Honolulu and Maui. In worst-case scenarios, some drivers in 2009 might end up seeing more than a minute added to their waiting time at already congested port-area roads, and several intersections could receive a new F rating

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More Updates:

Superferry first ship almost ready

Source: Pacific Business News

Hawaii Superferry's first ship is 85 percent completed at a shipyard in Mobile, Ala., while the second ferry is already under construction.

"The engines are in, and the painters have started amidships and are working out from there," said CEO John Garibaldi. "The interior fit-out is three-quarters done."

Sea trials are now planned for winter, and launch is set for July 2007, Garibaldi said Tuesday.

Healy-Tibbets is building four barges in China that will be part of the docking infrastructure at Honolulu, Lihue, Kahului and Kawaihae -- cars drive from the dock onto the barge and then onto the ferry.

The first ship will sail from Honolulu to Lihue and Kahului, with service to Kawaihae, on the Kohala coast of the Big Island, starting when the second ship becomes available. Hawaii Superferry has 14 employees today but projects a work force of about 300 when both ferries are in full operation.

Opponents of Superferry on Maui, where harbor space is especially limited, recently lost a key court challenge -- a judge didn't buy their argument that the state proceeded improperly in approving the project. However, more challenges may be forthcoming later.

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