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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 8:21 p.m., Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judge clears Hawaii Superferry to sail

Advertiser Staff

WAILUKU, Maui — The Hawaii Superferry has been cleared to sail.

Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza today lifted a court injunction that has kept the high-speed ferry from operating to Maui since Aug. 27.

The judge ruled this afternoon, after hearing arguments from state Attorney General Mark Bennett and Wailuku attorney Isaac Hall, who is representing three groups pushing for an environmental review before the ferry can resume service.

Hawaii Superferry President and CEO John Garibaldi, who is attending the hearing, told The Advertiser today that if the injunction is lifted, the company would announce a startup date by week's end.

He said it would take about two weeks to rehire furloughed workers and gear back up to provide service to between Honolulu, Maui and Kauai.

Cardoza's lifting of the injunction was the ferry's last legal hurdle to resume operations, wrapping up a two and half year legal challenge that nearly scuttled the $250 million enterprise.

Gov. Linda Lingle two weeks ago signed a law that allows the ferry to operate while an environmental review is conducted, essentially reversing a court ruling requiring the assessment before the start of operations.