GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Traffic was backed up near Pier 1 on North Puunene Avenue in Kahului yesterday during a traffic protest conducted by critics of the Hawaii Superferry.
Anti-Superferry demonstrators clog Maui traffic
WAILUKU » Traffic was backed up near Pier I in Kahului yesterday as scores of motorists conducted a mock demonstration of what they believed would happen when a Hawaii Superferry docks.
Organizers said 110 vehicles, the average estimated number to be transported on the Superferry, took more than an hour to leave a shoreline staging area from North Puunene Avenue onto Kaahumanu Avenue.
"The traffic you see is a small snippet," said Anne Rillero, a spokesman for the Pacific Whale Foundation, one of the organizers of the demonstration.
Bud Clifton, a participant in the demonstration, said the parking and traffic infrastructure on Maui was already deficient and that the Superferry would make a bad situation worse.
Officials with Maui Tomorrow, another organizer of the demonstration, said they felt the simulation was a success. Executive Director Irene Bowie said the traffic simulation demonstrated there would be a traffic jam that would affect existing businesses, including a restaurant and bank.
Superferry officials said the demonstration did not represent an accurate picture of their future traffic flow. Spokesman Terry O'Halloran said the demonstration took place outside its future pier facility, which would be used to manage the traffic flow.
O'Halloran said the offloading of 110 vehicles would take closer to 15 to 30 minutes. He said his firm also intends to hire off-duty police officers to manage the traffic flow.
Some residents have criticized the state for not requiring the Superferry to provide an environmental impact statement describing in detail the potential effect on traffic and the environment.
Supporters of the Superferry point out that cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers between Hawaii islands have not been required to have an environmental impact statement.
O'Halloran said the firm plans to require drivers to clean their vehicles and to have plants and plant parts certified by a state agricultural inspector before allowing them to be transported interisland.
O'Halloran said the Superferry is expected to begin operation in late summer and provide service to Honolulu, Kauai and Maui. Service to the Big Island is expected to begin in 2009.
According to the Web site, one-way 14-day advance passenger fares for adults will range from $44 for off-peak trips to $54 for peak-hour travel. Cars less than 17 feet long and 8 feet high would be $59-$69, the Web site said.