The Calm Before the Storm

You almost certainly know by now, the Thirty Meter Telescope will restart construction this coming Monday. It was announced in a live press conference Monday from the governor’s office. At 7am Monday, July 15th, the Mauna Kea Access Road will be closed to permit the passage of heavy equipment.

Mauna Kea Protest
Protests on Mauna Kea, June 24, 2015. Photo by Dan Birchall, used with permission.

With this both sides are preparing for the coming confrontation. The protesters are rallying the troops, the state and county have had the response plans in place for a while.

Meanwhile the observatories prepare to get jammed in the middle. We have cancelled planned maintenance operations and stationed a minimum crew in the dorms at Hale Pohaku, just a few guys to keep the telescopes on-sky if the road is impassable due to the protests.

There are already a few protesters on the mauna, a few vehicles at Puʻu Huluhulu, a few to be seen along the summit road. It appears that the larger gatherings will occur over the weekend.

It appears both side expect the action to be at the Mauna Kea Access Road and Saddle Road junction rather than at Hale Pohaku like last time. The plan seems to be forcing the protesters further down the mountain. Actually that is a good plan, safer for everyone protesters included with good road access adjacent to Saddle Road, lower in elevation.

Personally? I was scheduled to go up next week, I cancelled that, opting to go up this Friday to get a last few things done. I may possibly take a turn as part of the minimal crew staying on the mauna for a few days depending on the protests and the ability of law enforcement to keep the road open.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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