Ferry insists on
$40M harbors fix

The company behind a proposed
interisland ferry system says piers
and docks need to be raised

A proposal to bring an interisland ferry to Hawaii could sink unless the state provides $40 million this session to ready its harbors on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.


Hawaii Superferry asks for money:

Required: A company says the state must pay $40 million to ready harbors for an interisland ferry. The company pledges to repay the state.
Timing: The first ferry is to be delivered at the end of 2006.

John Garibaldi, chief executive of Hawaii Superferry Inc., said yesterday that $200 million in financing and agreements for the use of state harbors all depend on the state coming through to fund upgrades to the harbors.

"It's a key milestone," Garibaldi said after briefing lawmakers on the progress of the ferry planning.

The harbor upgrades are needed to raise piers and docks because of the size of the ferries that would shuttle vehicles and passengers between islands and their capability that allows cars to roll directly on or off, Garibaldi said.

He noted that the first of two 340-foot catamaran ferries is 25 percent built and scheduled for delivery at the end of 2006.

"The next session really doesn't work with us, so it's really critical that it ($40 million) be passed this session," Garibaldi said.

The company has pledged to repay the $40 million to the state.

House Transportation Chairman Joe Souki said he was concerned about how the harbor upgrades would be funded, but added, "I think that can be resolved and that's not a really big problem."

Gov. Linda Lingle has included $40 million in general obligation bonds for the harbor upgrades in her proposed budget.

By borrowing the money with such bonds, no collateral is issued and the government assumes it will be able to repay any debt through taxation or revenue from projects.

Souki, D-Waihee-Wailuku, said he would rather use a reimbursable bond or other type of funding that would hold the company responsible for repaying the debt.

"We don't believe it's fair to provide taxpayers with a debt for a private business," Souki said.

Souki said another concern for lawmakers is what effect the upgrades and increased harbor traffic will have on other businesses, such as shippers.

"In the end, if we feel it's a good mix, of course we'll go along with it," he said.

Hawaii Superferry Inc.

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