The Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton, where the maintenance and storage site for the seasonal Island Explorer bus system is located, is getting $9 million in federal funding for a new phase of development that is expected to include a welcome center Credit: Tim Cox / BDN

The Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton, which was built in 2012 as a maintenance and storage facility for the seasonal Island Explorer bus system, is getting $9 million from the federal government so it can become a regional visitors’ center.

Public parking already is available at the Route 3 site, where anyone can park and hop on an Island Explorer bus when the system is operating. The seasonal bus service, which usually runs from late June through mid-October and serves all of Mount Desert Island, is not running this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials with the partner organizations in the project, which include Acadia National Park and the Maine Department of Transportation, have said that the next phase of development at the site will include more parking spaces for cars and similar vehicles, parking for larger recreational vehicles and a building that has public restrooms and an information desk for travelers.

Officials with Acadia National Park were not immediately available Thursday to comment on the additional funding.

The funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will be administered through the Federal Transit Administration, was announced Thursday in a press release from Sen. Susan Collins.

“When completed, the Acadia Gateway Center will be a place where visitors can park their vehicles and get information about Acadia National Park and will improve both the visitor experience as well as the safety of pedestrians and cyclists,” the release said.

The release also said the Community Connector bus system in Bangor is getting nearly $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish bus stops and build bus shelters, and that the Greater Portland Transit District is getting $820,000 to purchase two new ramp-equipped diesel buses.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....