Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Tuesday, December 24, 1996

Alvey Wright is
a man of many ideas

VISION is something we regularly knock our politicians for not having. Alvey Wright, 87, used to be a politician. At least he was state director of transportation for 11 years under Governor Burns. And before that he was in the Navy, which has plenty of politics of its own.

Some of our senior politicians may consider him a nuisance. He has been peppering them every week or so lately with short letters on his plan to bring Hawaii closer to the Hawaii of our dreams.

As an old ship designer and transportation man who pushed through Honolulu's reef runway, he perhaps naturally would do it by reshaping our transportation system. His plan has three elements:

First, we provide every major island with an international airport (at least 9,000 feet of runway) so visitors can arrive and depart without funneling through Honolulu International. We have such service now at Kona, with good visitor stimulation from Japan. It is within reach for the main terminals of Maui and Kauai. This will help restrain growth on Oahu.

Second - and, sadly, his research has led him to conclude this is very long term - we build an interisland car ferry system fast enough, cheap enough and comfortable enough that visitors and local people alike can take their cars and their families from island to island.

This is an old dream that has always foundered over questions of cost, long travel time and seasick discomforts. Wright now thinks problem-solving technology has long-term but not short-term attainability.

He had hoped giant car-carrying ferries being built for use in Finland and Alaska could be adapted here, but now has determined they won't be able to handle our high and confused interisland seas.

He pins his long-term hopes, instead, on SLICE, an advanced stable platform ship designed by Lockheed Martin with a small prototype being built by Pacific Marine and Supply Co. of Honolulu. If its sea trials prove out, it could show the way to a future Wright thinks would have the desirable effect of stimulating neighbor island growth and slowing Oahu's growth.

Third, Oahu should wrap a ferry service around its southern coast with stops at Waianae-Kapolei, Pearl Harbor, Aloha Tower, Waikiki, Hawaii Kai and the Kaneohe Bay terminus of H-3. He sees it attracting both sight-seeing tourists, who make up two-thirds of our interisland air travelers, and commuters.

He envisions a historic sites tour starting near the Army Museum in Waikiki, connecting to the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, then proceeding by bus through the beautiful vistas H-3 will afford to a final ride back to Waikiki.

It would take all day and be great. He says it might relieve pressure to make a third try at building a high-speed mass transit rail line across southern Oahu.

Wright earlier at his own expense published small booklets outlining such visions for the Year 2020 as:

Congestion pricing to make our highways less crowded.

Placement underground of all wiring along highways.

Wireless transmission of power between the islands as less costly than an undersea cable.

Advanced senior class training in all high schools on nuclear physics, fission and fusion energy and solid-state electronics.

Cultural appreciation training so that by the year 2020 we will all be Hawaiian at heart.

A memorial to the submarine F-4, which sunk inexplicably off Fort Armstrong in 1915, as an adjunct feature of the USS Bowfin submarine memorial at Pearl Harbor, which he helped to establish.

A.A. Smyser is the Star-Bulletin's contributing editor.
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

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