Ferry public meetings set
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By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
By Christie Wilson
The first public meetings on the environmental impact statement being prepared by the state Department of Transportation in connection with Hawaii Superferry will be held in March.
The intent of the public informational meetings is to share what is planned for the EIS process, such as resources and issues to be studied and a proposed schedule, according to DOT Harbors Division chief Michael Formby.
Public input from the meetings will be considered when studies are done on the ferry's secondary impacts, such as those on marine mammals, Formby said.
The EIS is required under a new law, Act 2, that allows the Superferry and other interisland ferries to operate during the environmental review process.
The DOT awarded a $1 million contract to Belt Collins to conduct the EIS. State officials are hoping the study will be completed by the end of the year.
So far, Belt Collins has made arrangements for the first round of public meetings and is setting up consultations with agencies, citizen groups and concerned individuals, Formby said.
The company also is conducting a "rapid risk assessment" under a separate $250,000 contract. Formby said the assessment, due in April, was launched because Gov. Linda Lingle "didn't want to wait until the end of the EIS process to find out how effective the mitigation measures are."
The ferry is operating under more than 40 state-imposed conditions meant to reduce the risk of spreading invasive species and other potential impacts. The assessment may determine that additional measures are needed or that existing conditions are unnecessary, Formby said.
The schedule for public informational meetings is as follows (times are 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted):
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Correction: The state Department of Transportation has changed part of its meeting schedule on the Hawaii Superferry-related environmental impact statement that appeared in a previous version of this story. The March 11 meeting at Kaunakakai Elementary on Moloka'i and the March 31 meeting at Lana'i High School will be from 6 to 9 p.m.; the March 19 Kaua'i meeting will be at the Kaua'i Community College Performing Arts Center.