Heading to Acadia National Park next month? You could find some limited parking in areas of the park as construction on bus stops takes place.
Construction is scheduled to begin September 3 on several Island Explorer bus stops. No road closures are expected, but some parking lots will close, beginning with the Bubble Rock and Bubble Pond lots, a park release said.
A temporary access walkway will lead from the Bubble Rock trailhead to Park Loop Road. Construction will not encroach on carriage road use at Bubble Pond, but the restroom will be closed. Work will begin the same time at Parkman Mountain parking lot on Route 3 north of Northeast Harbor. The parking lot will be closed completely, but the restroom will remain open for people using the carriage roads.
Throughout October there will also be construction at the Cadillac Mountain North Ridge trailhead, Acadia Mountain, (parking lot will remain open there) Thunder Hole, and Sand Beach. Partial parking lot closures may occur at some of these sites. A new bus stop will be constructed at the Echo Lake Beach parking lot beginning on October 25 and will continue into May of 2014. Limited parking will be permitted at Echo Lake Beach parking lot during construction, but, due to lack of space and turning area, bus access will be limited.
It’s expected that work on all the sites, except Echo Lake, will be completed by the end of October, but all dates are weather dependent and subject to change. Occasional updates will be issued throughout the fall. For more information, call Acadia at 207-288-3338, or go to our website, www.nps.gov/acad for updates.
The Island Explorer bus system, established in 1999, has been significantly successful at encouraging car-free visitation to the park, but traffic congestion and roadside and overflow parking remains a challenge. Plans for the improved bus stops call for some major re-working of existing parking lots to accommodate both cars and buses, along with creative solutions to create safe passenger loading areas where none currently exist.
The process for identifying these areas and planning the improvements took place over the course of two years and involved representatives of the National Park Service and the Island Explorer operator, Downeast Transportation, with input from the MDI League of Towns and the public. The improvements will make using the shuttle bus more convenient for visitors.
Funding for improvements to the Island Explorer bus stops comes through the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program, established to address the challenge of increasing vehicle congestion in and around our national parks and other federal lands. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service.