Hawaii’s congressional delegation said it wants monthly updates from the acting director of the National Park Service on progress being made to restore walk-on access to the USS Arizona Memorial.
That access was curtailed 10 months ago when a 105-foot floating concrete dock that serves as a connector for the boats that ferry visitors to the memorial became dislodged.
Repair plans are still under way. A contract for the dock work has yet to be awarded, officials said. The visitor center has remained open and harbor boat tours continue, but do not stop at the memorial.
Hawaii’s Democratic delegation, U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, and U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case, noted in a letter today to acting director Dan Smith that a park service prediction of resuming access by Dec. 7 wasn’t met.
The park service then gave a deadline of the end of this month for access.
“Now in March 2019, NPS is announcing that the reopening of the dock has yet again been pushed back to a later date to be determined,” the delegation wrote. “This announcement is both frustrating and disappointing to the public.”
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii with nearly 1.8 million visitors in 2018, the lawmakers said.
Included in the count are “World War II survivors who are in their 90s, and their families who travel to Hawaii to visit the memorial. The sense of urgency in reopening the memorial cannot be overstated,” the letter states.
Valor in the Pacific National Monument Superintendent Jacqueline Ashwell said in response: “The National Park Service has received the letter from the Hawaii congressional delegation regarding the status of repairs to the USS Arizona Memorial dock. We will respond directly to the members of Congress once we’ve gathered the information requested.”
Given that the details and timeline for the dock repair have changed “numerous times” over the past 10 months, and that the most recent announcement by NPS does not include a target date for the reopening of the dock, “we request that you provide us with monthly written updates until the floating dock at the USS Arizona Memorial is repaired and reopened to the public,” the lawmakers said. “We request that these updates include details on the current status of the project, what has been achieved to date with the project, and what has yet to be achieved, all with corresponding dates of completion or estimated completion.”
The delegation added that it also wants “information on affiliated resources, including staffing and expenses, both to date as well as anticipated, and whether the resources are currently in the agency budget or will need additional funding by the Congress.”