Interior Secretary hopes to reopen Arizona Memorial in the fall

Updated: May. 29, 2019 at 7:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The USS Arizona Memorial will not reopen to the public until sometime this fall.

That’s the latest from U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt who was on Oahu Wednesday to check on the repairs being made at the historic attraction, which has been closed to the public for more than a year due to structural problems.

“I have made it a top priority to ensure that the repairs to the USS Arizona Memorial loading dock are completed to standard and as quickly as possible so that visitors to Pearl Harbor National Memorial can regain access to this iconic American structure,” said Bernhardt.

Bernhardt said he would be “disappointed” if the memorial wasn’t reopened by October.

The interior secretary was joined by Hawaii Congressman Ed Case and officials from the National Park Service as they got an up-close view of the damage.

“It’s frustrating to all of us that it’s taken this long, but I’m convinced we needed to go through a very deliberate process to make sure that we got it right,” said Case.

The attraction closed after the loading dock became partially submerged underwater, and cracks were noticed.

When inspectors took a closer look, they had found the structural problems were worse than anticipated.

Short-term fixes were implemented, but were minimally effective in the overall scheme of things.

The reopening to the public was pushed back multiple times and the site remains closed.

Bernhardt says maintenance backlogs are a problem at many national parks around the country.

He revealed he has a special connection with the Arizona Memorial. His great uncle was serving onboard when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“My mother’s uncle was actually on the Arizona and went down with it. During my confirmation process, this issue came up and I’m committed to making sure we get it done as fast as humanly possible,” Bernhardt said.

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