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Mauna Kea summit road to remain closed

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Members of the media photograph an ahu built by protesters at the 10,500 foot altitude mark on Mauna Kea summit access road on Thursday on the slope of Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island. Governor David Ige announced that the Mauna Kea Summit access road is closed indefinitely to the public. Construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope was set to resume June 24, but opponents of the construction successfully blocked access to the summit after an hours long standoff with DLNR and Hawaii police.

The University of Hawaii said the Mauna Kea summit road will remain closed as damage assessments continue in the wake of efforts by protesters last week to block passage to the site of the Thirty Meter Telescope with boulders and altars.

The road closure begins at the Halepōhaku mid-level facilities, withonly authorized personnel allowed through until further notice, the university said in a press release. “The University of Hawaii Office of Mauna Kea Management is currently assessing damage to the road and stability of the slopes for potential rock falls.”

UH exercised its authority under the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan to close the road last week after the discovery of boulders, rock walls that fully obstructed the road in some areas and the erection of two ahu. 

“The obstructions prevented the university from grading the road, a necessary road safety procedure performed twice weekly,” UH said.

Hawaii island police on Wednesday arrested a dozen protesters who successfully blocked the resumption of work on the $1.4 billion telescope.

The Mauna Kea visitor’s center is also closed.

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