Acadia National Park is planning one more public engagement session on its draft plan to relieve traffic congestion in the park, following some tense Acadia traffic near Jordan Pond on Sunday.
A pedestrian barely has room to get by the equestrian crossing sign on the right, as he heads toward Jordan Pond House Memorial Day weekend. The improperly parked cars, seen on the left, stretched along the Park Loop Road from Jordan Pond to as far as Bubble Pond.
The 215-page draft transportation plan, which was released on April 26, proposes to create seasonal vehicle reservation systems for an additional fee at Cadillac Summit Road, the Ocean Drive corridor and Jordan Pond area to better manage traffic.
After holding five information sessions in May, the National Park Service is offering a live webinar from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13 on the draft transportation plan, which proposes the reservation system as its centerpiece.
Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for Acadia National Park, said it’s been great to receive input from people at the sessions that came after the release of the draft transportation plan. She said it has been a fantastic process.
Acadia National Park is proposing some dramatic changes to manage a sharp increase in visitors, including establishing vehicle reservations at an additional fee for Cadillac Summit Road, the Ocean Drive corridor and the north lot of the Jordan Pond House from about mid-May to mid-October.
Draft transportation plan available for public comment until June 26. (NPS image)
In the 215-page draft environmental impact statement for a new Acadia traffic and transportation plan, the park is also proposing to eventually phase out right-lane parking on some one-way sections of Park Loop Road and to build new parking areas at Eagle Lake and Acadia Mountain with new trail connections.
While emphasizing that the sweeping proposals are preliminary and open to change, Acadia leaders, in the plan, are also pushing a comprehensive redesign and parking expansion of the visitor center and other infrastructure at Hulls Cove partly to encourage more parking there and use of the Island Explorer buses.
The park is advocating the proposals in its “preferred alternative” in the draft plan. The plan also spells out two other alternatives and a “no action” option for transportation management in the park.
The draft plan says the number of parking spaces along Park Loop Road and elsewhere in the park are not enough to meet demand. The park drew 3.5 million visitors last year and Cadillac Summit Road was closed at least 49 times because of heavy traffic congestion.
Summary graphic outlines the park’s preferred alternative for managing Acadia traffic (NPS image)
In a letter to introduce the draft plan, Kevin B. Schneider, superintendent of Acadia National Park, wrote that visitation at the park increased by 59 percent over the last 10 years, drawing more and more Acadia traffic.
“The draft transportation plan is an important milestone in creating a shared vision for enhancing visitor experience, managing congestion, protecting natural resources and improving safety in Acadia National Park,” Schneider wrote. “The draft transportation plan is critical so that Acadia can continue to provide a high quality experience for park visitors.”
The release of the draft plan marks the first time the park is spelling out its preferred plan for dealing with increased Acadia traffic and crowds.
A final plan is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2018.
A 60-day comment period on the draft will be between April 26 and June 26. Comments can be submitted in writing or online at go.nps.gov/AcadiaPlan at the “open for comment” link. Continue reading →
The road to the Cadillac Mountain summit in Acadia National Park was closed 49 times this summer because of traffic congestion, emphazing the need for more visitors to use the park’s shuttle bus system and providing key data for a new transportation plan, according to a park spokeswoman.
Motorists during July 4 weekend back up on the peak of Cadillac Mountain to obtain a parking space.
Christie Anastasia, public affairs specialist for Acadia, released statistics of the temporary closures to incoming motor vehicles on the Cadillac Mountain summit road that occurred between June 28 and Sept. 4.
The statistics show that 11 of the closures occurred during sunrise and 15 likely during sunset. She said the Cadillac Mountain summit was temporarily shut to incoming traffic seven times during the Labor Day weekend. When the road is shut, the entrance at the base of the mountain is blocked and rangers are stationed there.
While the fare-free Island Explorer does not stop at the top of Cadillac, the tie-ups on the mountain are a sign of the heavy use of motor vehicles inside the park, along with tight parking throughout the park during busy times. The large parking lot at Jordan Pond, for example, was also closed temporarily on Labor Day, causing many motorists to drive around looking for spots or to park illegally.
Would a vehicle registration system for driving up Cadillac help ease congestion like this? (NPS photo)
“I do think It underscores the importance of the Island Explorer,” Anastasia said. “You don’t have to worry about parking your car. You get on a bus. Someone else drives. You can look out the window and enjoy the scenery.”
The statistics also help in the completion of a new transportation plan. By the end of this year, the park might release a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the plan and then launch a new round of public comments. The park is considering preliminary ideas such as a reservation system for motor vehicles to park at Jordan Pond and to drive up Cadillac, the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast with spectacular views of the Porcupine Islands and Frenchman Bay.
“The fact that we are collecting the data on the closures helps us understand parking management strategies as part of that transportation planning process,” Anastasia said. The park’s dispatch office is tracking the closures in a spreadsheet, she said. Continue reading →