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State to suspend lane closures on Hawaii Belt Road, monitor safety at Mauna Kea base

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    Thirty Meter Telescope opponents look on as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson makes an appearance on the tenth day of protests at the base of Mauna Kea.

State transportation officials this afternoon said it will suspend all lane closures on Hawaii Belt Road and continue to monitor safety on roads leading to Mauna Kea on Hawaii island.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation said it will “continue to support the joint operations on Maunakea,” with its primary mission being “to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads leading up the mountain—drivers, protesters, astronomers, and contractors alike.”

Signs, cones and barriers have been put up to alert motorists of the presence of pedestrians and law enforcement at the base of Mauna Kea Access Road. All lane closures on an alternative route on Hawaii Belt Road through Hamakua have also been suspended to facilitate travel between east and west Hawaii.

HDOT said in a news release that it “supports the legal right of TMT to construct as the project has been approved through the state’s procedures and rules, including the Final Environmental Impact Statement published in May 2010, the Hawaii Supreme Court decision in December 2015 vacating the Circuit Court’s May 2014 judgment, and the September 2017 findings of the second contested case hearing.”

HDOT said it would also continue to work with law enforcement to address illegal actions by protesters on neighbor islands that impact the daily lives of commuters on other state roads such as the H-1 Freeway.

“We understand that there are many perspectives on the state’s involvement in the facilitation of the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope,” HDOT said in the release, “and respect the rights of community members to exercise their freedom of speech in a peaceful, legal manner.”

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