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Posted on: January 29, 2008 at 8:59:45 pm
Superferry, in context
The Advertiser has been going through thousands of pages of documents -- 11 boxes and counting -- to try to reconstruct the state's decision to exempt Hawaii Superferry from an environmental review.
Our story Sunday included a reference to a Feb. 11, 2005, e-mail from Barry Fukunaga, the then-deputy director of harbors at the state Department of Transportation, to a colleague. The e-mail describes a telephone call Fukunaga received from Superferry president and chief executive officer John Garibaldi:
State documents show that the department's harbors division staff, in early planning, wanted to avoid constructing major harbor improvements until Superferry proved viable after a few years.
But the department's preferred improvements at Kahului Harbor, where there were potential conflicts between Superferry, Young Brothers' barge operations, canoe paddlers and other harbor users, involved activity that would potentially trigger an environmental assessment.
The stripped-down plans for a barge and ramp for Superferry at Kahului's Pier 2 were seen by the department as interim, a fallback position to qualify for an exemption and meet the project's target launch date. Yet Superferry was so concerned about a trigger that executives pushed the department not to mention the preferred improvements at the harbor.
Fukunaga, in an e-mail to a staffer less than two weeks before the final decision to exempt the project from environmental review, wrote: "Garibaldi called me, he received his letter today and is concerned that identifying both the preferred improvements and the alternatives establishes a linkage and requires our doing the environmental reviews for everything.
"I informed him that we did not see it that way. In any event he is going to confer with his legal. We'll see."
We knew that by Feb. 23, 2005, Fukunaga made the official decision to exempt the project from environmental review and did not refer to the state's preferred pier improvements at Kahului Harbor.
But we did not know the exact chain of events. Documents released to The Advertiser on Monday provide more context.
Fukunaga sent out letters to Superferry, county agencies and others in early February 2005 describing permanent pier improvements between Pier 1 and Pier 3 at Kahului Harbor that the department thought it could complete before ferry service started. The improvements -- essentially the construction of a new Pier 4 -- would have involved an environmental review.
The barge and ramp plans for Pier 2 were an "interim, short term arrangement" that would be exempt from environmental review and meet the timetable for launch if the preferred work was not finished.
Soon after Garibaldi's phone call, however, Fukunaga sent out correction letters that claimed his earlier description of the new pier was for a separate project "unrelated to current improvements planned for Hawaii Superferry."
3 comments • Permalink • Report offensive comment
Comment from: Koauka [Visitor]
The decision makers, led by Barry Fukunaga, have no understanding of maritime and harbor operations at all.
And that is why we are in this situation today. Congrats Barry on your promotion to Chief of Staff.
And dont forget, remember to micromanage your friends at DOT!
Of course dont forget Aunty Linda, her mantra is get the job done.
And that's why we are in this situation today.
Permalink 01/30/08 @ 00:52
Comment from: SunnyK [Visitor]
Why was Rod Haraga even brought in from the mainland when the "big" decisions went to Fukunaga? Another scape goat? Auwe!
Didn't someone from DLNR/SHPD rubber stamp the go ahead as well...without appropriate maritime archeological assessment or land survey? Who was in charge at that time? Peter Young and Melanie Chinen?
Permalink 01/30/08 @ 05:40
Comment from: Karen Chun [Visitor] · http://www.SaveKahuluiHarbor.com
After telling us in the 2025 Kahului Master Plan that Pier 5 (slated for Superferry and cruise ships) would not be built because Army Corps of Engineers had determined the surge would make it impractical to position and moor vessels, it is disgusting to think that they knew then they really were going to build it with all its attendant problems.
Even though they are fast-tracking Pier 5, we cannot wait 6 more years with the defective Superferry barge having to be moved to a working freight dock (Berth 2B) due to winter surge. We knew this would happen and DOT did too. DOT didn't listen to the harbor pilots in 2005 when they told them that it was impossible to moor anything on the end of pier 2 (the barge's home) during the winter. We need that piece of junk out of Kahului Harbor now
Our freight hit a crisis point in 2003. DOT's own predictions showed this but they did nothing to increase our freight space. What they did, instead, was to triple cruise ship dockings, giving them preference over freight. Then, to make things even worse, they took over 24% of our interisland freight dock for the Superferry. Calculations based on the 2025 dock usage predictions showed that 43% of increased berth use came from cruise ships and 17% from the Superferry. With the Superferry barge parked at a freight berth, their impact is more.
Even at these old numbers over 50% of new dock demand has been driven by 2 companies operating passenger ships.
These bad decisions took our already tight freight situation and turned it into a crisis. I've seen the coal freighter waiting outside Kahului Harbor for 3 days while cruise ships tied up for 35 hours at a time, using the dock as a sort of ocean front hotel space.
It is time to realize that we cannot accommodate passenger ships in Kahului Harbor. We need them out of there today not in six years. DOT could do this with a simple policy change:
Get the cruise ships (who are experiencing financial difficulties and taking Pride of Aloha away from Hawai'i) and the Superferry (which has so few customers it can't even cover its fuel costs) out of Kahului Harbor right now
Let's rethink this hurried plan to expand Kahului Harbor inward (at the expense of turning basin safety) and solve our immediate problem with a no-cost policy change. Even if HSF sues the State, it can't possible cost the 1/3 of a billion dollars that we're paying to build them a dock.
Then let's take the breathing room this policy change provides and obtain some federal money so we can do Kahului expansion right - go outward not inward.
Permalink 01/30/08 @ 07:45