Kauai Residents Discuss Superferry Issues

Anne Thurston
Anne Thurston
Terry O'Halloran
Terry O'Halloran
Nawiliwili, Kauai
Nawiliwili, Kauai

(KHNL) - The Hawaii Superferry gets ready to set sail next summer. While it sounds like a cool way to travel interisland, some folks on the Neighbor Islands, including Kauai, are cool to the idea.

"Our community is horrified of the thought that they would not be consulted and that this many vehicles, animals, people would come to the island every day," said Anne Thurston, with the People for the Preservation of Kauai.

Thurston represents a group, formed in June, after hearing about plans for the Superferry. It started a petition drive and collected 6,000 signatures asking for an environmental impact statement. The group's members believe it will give them a better idea of what this will bring.

Some residents here on Kauai believe the island isn't ready for the Superferry. They say more work needs to be done to Nawiliwili Harbor before the Superferry's arrival.

"The intersection where we come in has a stacking lane of 1 maybe 2 cars.When you have 1 1/2 hours window for 250 cars to come in plus 800 people, you're beginning to have the same kind of problems we've had here over the years," said Bruce Pleas, Kauai resident.

Those who support the Superferry are looking forward to traveling interisland with their cars. And some local companies say it gives them another way to do business on the other islands. But all that traveling in local waters, concerns some people.

"Any vessel going the speed the Superferry will be going, they're going to have to consider all these different animals," said Paul Clark with Save Our Seas.

Others are worried about other ways this vessel will be used.

"Consequently I think an important aspect of the Superferry is the military use of it," said Clark.

But Superferry officials say they're working hard to iron out the issues.

They say they're planning to use the harbors for what they were intended to do, to move people and goods between islands.

They're not pursuing an EIS because it isn't required.

But ferry officials say they're proactively approaching issues that would ordinarily be done in an EIS.

They also say in most cases, they're going above and beyond what's being required.

"We've done independent traffic studies, we're working very closely with the Department of Agriculture on invasive species issues, with whale avoidance policies," said Terry O'Halloran with the Hawaii Superferry.

People who support the vessel are looking forward to its convenience.

They say it'll give them more options when traveling interisland.

"It's going to be a lot easier for me to go back and forth. I travel often with a motorcycle club, the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle club, and that's awfully expensive," said Jim Jennings, Kauai resident.

The Superferry will set sail in July. Daily service begins from Oahu to Maui and Kauai. Daily service to the Big Island starts in 2009.