(BIVN) – Early Monday evening, Thirty Meter Telescope supporters waved signs along the highway in Hilo, marking the observatory’s first scheduled day of construction on Mauna Kea.
On the Saddle Road, between Puʻu Huluhulu and the Mauna Kea Access Road, a huge standoff was taking place between law enforcement and opponents of the project who are determined to block any construction equipment from ascending the mountain.
The construction equipment was not going to come today, an observatory representative said.
“We were not scheduled to send any heavy equipment up the mountain today,” said TMT spokesperson Scott Ishikawa. “We will be doing it sometime later this week.”
Ishikawa was present for the sign waving in Hilo and spoke in video recorded by TMT.
“We’re just hopeful that if there’s any protest, it will be peaceful and lawful,” Ishikawa said. “The main thing is we want everybody to be safe, not only our crews, but even folks who oppose the project. We just want people to be safe and nobody get hurt.”
“We have a wide array of folks here today on our sign weaving,” Ishikawa continued. “Construction workers, astronomers, you know – just regular folks in the community that are supportive, or been supportive of
this project and we’re very grateful for everyone who’s helped us out.
Particularly the last four years with all the challenges we had. But we’re just very hopeful to start construction soon on Mauna Kea and we think it’s going to benefit everyone.”
No one was arrested on Mauna Kea on Monday. Law enforcement will meet with the TMT opponents again on Tuesday.