Superferry secures funding

With more than $210 million of financing in place, leaders of the Hawaii Superferry are on pace to begin interisland service to Kaua’i in 2007.

Hawaii Superferry Chief Executive Officer John Garibaldi said company leaders are doing their due diligence in working with officials with various entities to investigate traffic-mitigation, and to prevent the spread of invasive species, by making sure any vehicles they carry meet absolute cleanliness requirements.

Most important, Superferry leaders are also working on the logistics, readying Nawiliwili Harbor for the 345-foot vessel that at capacity will carry 866 people and more than 250 vehicles.

“We’re working with Bob (Nawiliwili Harbor harbor-master Bob Crowell) and the state Department of Transportation getting the layout of what the facility will need,” Garibaldi said.

“We will continue to meet with community members as we complete work related to the construction of our vessels and prepare detailed operational plans for our service. We are also in the process of establishing a board of advisors for each island.”

Garibaldi pointed out that Kaua’i will require the least amount of infrastructure of any inter-island destination, but will require a ramp to be constructed to transport motor vehicles onto and off of the ferry.

Garibaldi said the ramp costs and harbor improvements on Kaua’i and other island harbors are included in the $40 million allotted for Superferry harbors improvements by members of the state Legislature earlier this year.

He said the cost for a family of three traveling interisland will be about half the cost of flying.

Meanwhile, the planned ferry service is being challenged by members of environmental groups who have filed two lawsuits. The groups’ leaders say company executives should have completed a detailed environmental review before moving ahead with the project.

Hawaii Superferry operations will generate harbor revenues to repay any debt to the state, Garibaldi said. Company officials hope to generate at least $2.3 million a year based upon charges of $2 per passenger, $4 per private vehicle, and $20 for commercial vehicles, plus a harbor-usage fee of 1 percent of ferry revenues.

Under the agreement, harbor upgrades will belong to state Department of Transportation Harbors Division leaders, and can serve other harbor users, according to information provide by Hawaii Superferry.

Federal maritime officials said Friday that Hawaii Superferry officials signed documents with investors and representatives of the federal government in Washington.

Included was a loan guarantee by the U.S. Maritime Administration for the construction and financing of the two high-speed catamaran ferries under construction in Alabama.

The financing is one of the final hurdles for Hawaii Superferry executives, who aim to begin interisland service link-ing Honolulu with Maui and Kaua’i in 2007.

Service to other islands will begin in 2009, when the second vessel is completed. Company officials said construction of the first vessel was not impacted by Hurricane Katrina.


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