Harbor users urge $600M upgrade
A coalition complains that maritime companies are running out of space
A group of the state's largest maritime companies yesterday urged spending more than $600 million to improve Hawaii harbors and ports, and predicted that the state's largest facility soon will run out of space.
The report, commissioned by the Hawaii Harbor User Group, warned that Honolulu Harbor -- the major shipment point for most container traffic in and out of the state -- will run out of space for international cargo this year and for domestic cargo by 2010.
Matson and Horizon Lines are already out of space at Sand Island, said Gary North, senior vice president of Matson Navigation Company Inc. and chairman of the nonprofit group.
"We're stacking things higher and that means that it takes longer to process cargo," he said.
The report recommended increasing rates for cargo wharfage and passenger arrivals, pursuing mixed-use development to spread costs and obtaining private equity. Port user rates have not increased since 1987, the report said.
Hawaii's economy is creating crowded conditions for the maritime industry and users of Hawaii ports are increasingly confronted with limits on berth and terminal resources, the report stated.
There is also a looming shortage of port facilities due to the growth of intrastate and interstate cargo business, the expanding cruise ship industry and the planned introduction of an interisland ferry service, it said.
The nonprofit harbor group was created in late 2004 by Matson, Horizon Lines LLC, Norwegian Cruise Line, Young Brothers/Hawaiian Tug & Barge, Sause Bros. Inc., Aloha Cargo Transport, McCabe, Hamilton & Renny Co., Hawaii Stevedores Inc., Hawaii Superferry Inc., Tesoro Hawaii Corp., the Gas Co. and Ameron Hawaii.
"We had all been dealing with the DOT Harbors Division independently about various issues and we weren't having a whole lot of success," North said. "The DOT had difficulty getting focused on whom they should take care of, and this was becoming more of a problem as the harbor started to shrink."
Waterfront plans for Honolulu Harbor must ensure significant cargo ship and container space now or it will hurt Hawaii's emerging export-based businesses, said state Sen. Gordon Trimble (R, Downtown-Waikiki), a longtime advocate for easing pier pressure.
Export volume at Honolulu Harbor -- which caters to Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) and the Philippines, Micronesia and Orient Navigation Co. (PM&O Line) -- has increased about 25 percent annually for the past three years and is expected to continue at that pace, said John David Bryant, the operations manager for Hawaii Stevedores.
The number of Hawaii cruise visitors jumped 31.2 percent from 2004 to 2005, according to the state Department of Business Economic Development & Tourism. Last year, more than 315,914 passengers boarded 54 out-of-state cruise ships including the foreign-flagged Norwegian Wind. In addition, there were two U.S. flagged ships homeported in Hawaii: the Pride of Aloha and the Pride of America, which began interisland cruises in July.
To accommodate this growth, the group recommends three high-priority projects should be completed in the next five years, saying $300 million should be spent on the Kapalama Terminal development in Honolulu; $150 million should be spent on the West Harbor development in Kahului, Maui; and $50 million should be spent on the Pier 8 construction in Kalaeloa.
More than $110 million in medium-priority projects also were recommended in the report. Honolulu projects include rerouting Sand Island Access Road, improving Pier 40 and completing the Pier 19 Ferry Terminal. Projects were also recommended for Kalaeloa, Kahului, Hilo, Kawaihae, Nawiliwili, Lanai and Port Allen.