State Pushes Bills to Modernize Hawaii's Harbors

Mike Formby
Mike Formby
Ku Park
Ku Park

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- More traffic at harbors across the islands could bring big problems, unless the state works to fix it very soon. Harbor users say many of the piers are at capacity, or over capacity.

To ensure the continued and unimpeded movement of cargo in and out of the state, as well as between our islands, the state says harbors must undergo major expansion and improvements to assure their efficiency and capability. The Department of Transportation's Harbors Division is working with the Hawai'i Harbors User Group, to develop a comprehensive and system-wide harbor modernization plan.

House Bill 3202 and Senate Bill 3124 would modernize all harbors across the state. They ask for more than $842 million dollars to do so. The state says cargo container volume is expected to increase as much as 27 percent by 2010; 66 percent by 2015 and 93 percent by 2020.

The most pressing need is Honolulu Harbor, the hub of the state's commercial harbors. Harbors Deputy Director Mike Formby says, "80% of Hawaii's consumer goods are imported. Of that 80%, 98% come through our commercial harbor system."

Formby says Honolulu Harbor can't handle much more traffic from cargo ships. That's why he, as the head of the Harbors Division, supports a bill that would build up this harbor. "We'd like to increase pier space. We'll develop two new piers." This would be the construction of a KMR container deep draft wharf with berthing capacity to accommodate two container ships.

The state would also build a 70 acre container yard at KMR, with necessary gates, buildings and off-site improvements with direct connection to the Young Brothers inter-island barge operating yard.

Cargo shipper Horizon Lines says it's about time. Spokesman Ku Park says, "This should've been started 20 years ago. In Honolulu, for the general consumer. things just magically appear on the shelves and people aren't in tune with the harbors' needs."

Harbor users say the harbor is already at capacity. And the longer the state waits to modernize it, the longer you the consumer will pay for imported goods, including consumer goods, vehicles, fuel and constructional materials. Park predicts, "If we don't do it the cost will be even greater. We'll have delayed ships, multiple handling of cargo on the pier because they have to stack things higher so it'll take longer to get them."

Formby adds, "The consumers would see delayed receipt of cargo, empty shelves, and with less supply you see higher costs." The bills ask for a little over $257 million to fix Honolulu Harbor. It aims to complete the task in 6 years.

Also on Oahu, the bills would develop Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor utilities infrastructure, and add a new dedicated fuel pier there. The bills have passed their first reading in both houses and are now in committees. The anticipated cost of projects included in the Harbors Modernization Plan is as follows:

o Maui: Kahului Harbor - $345.1 million

o O'ahu: Honolulu Harbor - $257.3 million

Kalaeloa Harbor - $57.9 million

o Hawai'i:

Hilo Harbor - $61.4 million

Kawaihae Harbor - $87.8 million

o Kaua'i: Nawiliwili Harbor - $10.3 million§ Kalaeloa Harbor - $57.9 million

o Hawai'i: Hilo Harbor - $61.4 million

§ Kawaihae Harbor - $87.8 million

o Kaua'i: Nawiliwili Harbor - $10.3 million