Mayor Harry Kim announced on Thursday that the Mauna Kea Access Road is temporarily closed to the public as the road is being cleared to make it completely accessible to the public.
Under an agreement with the protectors, the clearing operation will involve the collaborative efforts of State and County agencies working together with the protectors.
During the road closure, access will be limited to telescope personnel, ranchers, conservation workers, hunters and cultural practitioners, as previously arranged, the Mayor said in a Thursday release.
The road will reopen to the general public on Saturday, December 28. This date coincides with the reopening of the Hale Pohaku Visitor Center.
Mayor Kim issued a letter to Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson earlier in the day, the full text of the letter can be read below:
“The TMT Project has informed State officials and Mayor Kim that there will be no attempt to deliver construction equipment to the Maunakea site anytime soon. I, Mayor Kim give you my personal assurances that no attempt will be made to move TMT construction equipment up the mountain for a minimum of two months. During this time, at least until the end of February 2020, the protectors are requested to move the Kupuna tent which is currently on the roadway to the side of the road. This will provide open access to the general public to drive up the road to the Maunakea Visitor Center or to the summit region. This clearance of the roadway will help ensure the safety of visitors and protectors.
“During this time, State and County agencies and law enforcement will agree to stand down. There will be no attempt by State of Hawai’i law enforcement agencies or Hawai’i County Police Department to remove the protectors’ encampment from the sides of Maunakea Access Road or from Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu.
“It is hoped that during this peaceful time, communication between government officials, the astronomy community, community leaders and protectors will continue. I, Mayor Kim will continue to work with TMT to extend the two-month stand-down period if necessary.”
In response, Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu issued the following statement:
“Today, we received written assurances from Mayor Harry Kim that construction of the TMT will not proceed until the end of February at the earliest and that law enforcement will stand down for the duration of that time. In response to the mayor’s commitment, the kūpuna will open the road for safety reasons. They will remain in place alongside Maunakea Access Road with the full support of the Pu‘uhonua and will be prepared to respond to any threat of construction by TMT in the future.
“We’d like to thank the hundreds of kia‘i who responded to the Hawai‘i island kāhea today and were on hand to hear from the kūpuna directly. We would like to remind everyone to remain vigilant and steadfast, as Aunty Noe Noe reminded us today, ‘if there are any signs of construction, we’ll be right back in the middle of the road.’
We are committed and we will not leave Maunakea until the TMT leaves Hawai‘i.”
KITV Mauna Kea Access Road file image.