Lawmakers serious about bringing back 'Superferry'

Lawmakers serious about bringing back 'Superferry'
Published: Feb. 4, 2016 at 8:57 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2016 at 11:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was seen as an alternative to air travel, but legal issues ultimately scuttled the Hawaii Superferry in 2009.

The Superferry hasn't run in over six years, but it remains a hot topic at the state Capitol.

And lawmakers now say there's political will to bring it back -- the right way.

There are currently nine bills moving through the state Legislature this session that seek to bring back the inter-island ferry in some form.

Gov. David Ige said the push isn't coming from his office, and he's waiting on lawmakers to bring him a workable proposal.

"Clearly, any project that moves forward would have to comply with the environmental and regulatory requirements," Ige said.

That's exactly what state Sen. Michelle Kidani's bill intends to do.

"We want to make sure we do everything right, to make sure we look at the venues and the environmental impact," said Kidani, a member of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

Her legislation calls for the state Department of Transportation to initiate a feasibility study on bringing the ferry back.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said the agency supports the intent of the study. He adds, "There's a lot that has to happen before any sort of system pushes off the dock."

While Kidani's bill only addresses the feasibility study, there are others that are more aggressive, calling for an outright return of a ferry.

"The basic gist is to provide our Hawaii residents with another form of transportation that may be less expensive," said Kidani.

Senator Lorraine Inouye, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, said she's encouraged by the moves to bring back the inter-island ferry.

"I'm ... going to be aggressive in recommending that we move the measures forward," she said.

The governor didn't say whether he'd support the revival of an inter-island ferry. "I think it's just premature to predict what the outcome will be," he said.

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