ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — The National Park Service is seeking public input in order to create a plan addressing traffic issues in Acadia National Park.
Meetings will take place on June 3 and July 30 in the gymnasium of the Peninsula School at 71 Main St. in Prospect Harbor; and on June 4 and July 29 in the library of Mount Desert Island High School at 1081 Eagle Lake Road in Bar Harbor. All meetings are scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m., John T. Kelly, park planner at Acadia, said Tuesday.
“People don’t need to attend every meeting,” Kelly said, adding the park service scheduled four sessions of the same meeting.
The entire planning process will take more than two years, with a completed strategy slated for preparation in the spring of 2018. The park service will seek public input at several intervals during the process, he said.
“We have no ideas or designs or proposals on the table. We’re looking to get that from the public,” Kelly said. “We want to encourage people to get in and participate early.”
Kelly noted the plan is aimed at addressing several transportation “hot spots” in the park where congestion occurs because of traffic and/or parking issues. These include the top of Cadillac Mountain, the Jordan Pond House and Ocean Drive, which is the part of the Park Loop Road that stretches from Sand Beach to Otter Point.
A 2013 engineering study determined it’s impossible for large vehicles such as buses and RVs to stay completely in their lanes when negotiating the three hairpin turns on Cadillac Mountain Road. From 1989 to 2000, 29 crashes along Cadillac Mountain Road and its parking lots involved large vehicles, says a summer 2015 newsletter titled “Envision the Future of Transportation in Acadia.”
During peak hours, as many as 500 cars are parked informally along roadsides in the park, according to a survey done in August 2014.
“By tradition we allow parking in the right lane. That’s got pluses and minuses,” Kelly said.
The survey also found 22 of the 24 designated parking areas along the Park Loop Road and the Hulls Cove Visitor Center reach capacity, sometimes for as much as six hours a day.
Despite the fact that 95 percent of the park’s 2.4 million visitors annually come in their own passenger cars, the plan will not seek to remove cars from the park.
Kelly pointed out ferry service from Bar Harbor to the park lands on the Schoodic Peninsula will be part of the plan.
“We’re very interested in not putting more cars on Schoodic but [rather] more bikes and [pedestrians],” he said.
Comments will be accepted through Aug. 3 at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ACADTransportationPlan. Comments can also be mailed to Acadia National Park, Attn: Transportation Plan, PO Box 177, Bar Harbor, ME 04609-0177.