Maunakea Visitor Information Station is ready for work to begin on parking lot improvements and Upper Longhouse replacement; visitor hours to change during construction.
The Maunakea Visitor Information Station will adjust its closing time from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. beginning Sun, Dec. 9, 2018, for an infrastructure project that will improve visitor safety and better protect natural, historic and cultural resources. Preparations will begin in December with construction slated to start in January 2019.
The infrastructure project includes the construction of a new paved parking lot with 42 stalls, entry and exit lanes to the parking area, a new greenhouse for propagating native plants and the removal of an existing structure, known as the Upper Longhouse. The project is expected to take about six months.
The improvements are necessary as the station has experienced a significant increase in visitors due, in large part, to Saddle Road improvements that have made Maunakea much more accessible. This has resulted in vehicles parking on the shoulder of Maunakea Access Road and visitors crossing the street in the dark. By better managing vehicular and pedestrian traffic, soil erosion in sensitive areas will be reduced, and fragile natural resources will be better protected.
Nighttime stargazing at the station will be suspended during this period, but the station will remain open seven days a week with the same opening time of 9:00 a.m. Station restrooms will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The visitor information station will continue to work with ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, the County of Hawaiʻi and other partners to bring both live and remote stargazing opportunities to other locations on the island. During the project, data will be collected about the impact of the modified hours on visitor experiences. This data will be used to develop new, Hawaiʻi Island-oriented programs. These may include free reservation-based weekly stargazing programs specifically for island residents and educational groups, and other opportunities for visitors.
Correction: The Office of Maunakea Management has issued a correction about the start day of the new hours as Sunday, Dec. 9, not Friday, Dec. 7.