(BIVN) – The Mauna Kea Access Road is now closed and although the Saddle Road is open to traffic, officials are urging motorists to use caution, especially in the area of Puʻu Huluhulu.
This morning was the scheduled start of construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope project planned for Mauna Kea. Hundreds of people in opposition to the project are in the area, lining the Saddle Road. There is also a large law enforcement presence.
At 8 a.m. HST, Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense stated:
The Department of Conservation and Resources Enforcement has closed the Mauna Kea Access Road to all traffic until further notice. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway, Saddle Road, is currently open to traffic. Please drive with caution as there are many people and vehicles along the side of the road near the Mauna Kea Access Road. The Hawaii County Police Department is asking for your help in keeping the Daniel K. Inouye Highway open and safe.
The County of Hawai‘i also issued a media release, appealing to the community to “drive with caution and Aloha, and stay safe” while on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road). “There are many people and vehicles along the side of the road near the Mauna Kea Access Road, so please drive with caution.”
The County says “the main mission of the Hawai‘i Police Department, which is present at the Access Road, is to keep the people safe and to maintain a safe flow of traffic on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.”
“We want to keep this as peaceful as possible, and the Hawai‘i Police Department is asking for your help to keep the Saddle Road open and safe for everybody,” the Mayor said in the media release. “We are all ‘ohana of this Island community.”
Kim also expressed “appreciation of the protestors’ conduct at the Pu’uhonua site.”
“The main thing is to respect each other, and to keep everyone safe and in peace,” Mayor Kim said.
Big Island Video News will be covering this situation throughout the day.