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Acadia Needs Your Ideas on Transportation

Natalie OvertonBy David MacDonald, Friends of Acadia President and CEO

As many of us have experienced this year, Acadia’s roads and parking lots can, at times, become crowded or even gridlocked with too many vehicles. Since Friends of Acadia’s earliest days (and we turn 30 this year!), our members have been concerned about “sustainable visitation” that provides a high quality experience while protecting park resources. So we applaud park and NPS staff for launching a major transportation planning project last year, and stand ready to help however we can.

Last week, the Acadia National Park transportation planning work reached an important milestone with the release of “preliminary concepts” of possible future management strategies for addressing growing visitation, vehicular congestion, public safety, and a quality visitor experience at Acadia. The concepts focus on but aren’t limited to the Park Loop Road, Cadillac Summit Road, Schoodic Loop Road, and associated parking lots.

The preliminary concepts can be found online. Download the PDF under the “Document Content” section at the bottom of the page.

Now the public—meaning FOA members and volunteers, residents of Acadia’s surrounding communities, longtime visitors, and, frankly, everyone who cares about this remarkable place—is being asked to review and comment on those preliminary concepts. The more that park users like you and me give feedback, the better the final plan will serve us all.

(Be sure to comment via the official website at, as ideas posted on this page will not make it into the planning process.)

There’s a lot of information to assess. Like everyone, FOA has just received the concepts and we are in the process of reviewing and discussing them among our staff and board, in order to submit input as part of the public comment period, open through November 30. Although this is not the forum to weigh in on the specifics of each alternative, I want to offer three initial reactions from FOA:

1) We support this initiative. FOA commends the park for tackling these questions in a comprehensive manner and considering management options that are forward-looking and not isolated or temporary “band aids” to the stresses from visitation our park is undergoing.

2) FOA also supports the park’s fundamental goals of a high-quality visitor experience while protecting park resources, and while we understand that change can be hard to implement, FOA does not believe that the status quo is a viable or responsible course of action.

3) FOA is actively engaged and helping: we have been assisting the park with data collection and pilot programs during the planning process, and hope to continue to be a resource for the park and surrounding communities in the weeks and months to come.

In addition to the online documents, the park will offer two open houses where you can learn about the concepts and offer feedback. They will be held on Wednesday, November 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Peninsula School (71 Main Street/Route 186) in Prospect Harbor, and on Thursday, November 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mount Desert Island High School (1081 Eagle Lake Road/Route 233) in Bar Harbor.

I hope you will join FOA in helping Acadia to take this important step toward a better future. Thank you!



10 Responses to “Acadia Needs Your Ideas on Transportation”

  1. Jim Linnane

    Thank you for paying attention to this and asking us to get involved. There are many transportation-related things going on around here just now in addition to ANP’s transportation planning. MDOT is rebuilding route 3. There are plans to move cruise ship arrivals to the former ferry terminal in Hulls Cove. The Town of Bar Harbor is looking into parking issues. Reading accounts in the newspaper might cause a casual observer to think that all of these actors are acting alone without cognizance of the actions of others. One hopes that FOA will seek and take a place at the table in all of these undertakings and try to serve as an honest broker. In these various settings one also would hope that FOA especially would be an advocate for those whose requirements should be paramount but who do not have lawyers, lobbyists, consultants, and PowerPoint slides to present their case. I am speaking here of Acadia’s landscape and its flora and fauna. Everyone loses if Acadia is trashed by thoughtless consideration of institutional priorities.

    • Aimee Beal Church

      So true! FOA participated in the Citizens’ Advisory Group to the Route 3 reconstruction and has been closely paying attention to the ferry terminal project in our roles as both a voice and advocate for Acadia’s interests and a liaison between the park and surrounding communities—and we will continue to work to ensure collaboration between all interested parties on this sort of issue.

  2. Greg Morgan

    Thanks for the heads up on this opportunity for comment on proposals for park transportation options. As noted, the status quo is not a viable position for the future of the park and visitors. Also nice to know FOA has been assisting with data collection & pilot programs. I will take the opportunity to review/comment as you suggest. Best regards, Greg Morgan

  3. Deborah Barrigar-Tucker

    Why not evaluate the example set by Mackinaw Island (Michigan) which for many years has allowed NO motorized vehicles on the island — and it is a huge vacation and tourist spot.

    While I do not have any behind-the-scenes information or statistics, I do know that the experience of bicycling, walking, hiking, or other ways of accessing the splendors of the island add to its charm and the uniqueness of its location. Acadia may choose to NOT be totally motor-free, but might find SOME parts of Mackinaw Island’s model worth duplicating.

  4. barbara

    I would be more than pleased if the ships were taken out of bar harbor and placed elsewhere.. in my opinion that is your number one problem with congestion in town and in the park… the other area to consider is STOP taking those big buses up cadillac moutain.. that road was NOT built to handle this type of traffic and certainly not those big buses.. everything in town and on the mountains and in the park’s heavy visitation areas seem to all coincide in my opinion by the cruise ship traffic.

  5. Steve Dudley

    Challenging. Good data points for this discussion would be the number of visitors who buy their park pass at the gate as they drive the Loop Road versus buying passes elsewhere. And, the number of visitors passing through the Loop Road gate using their Senior Pass.

    As a frequent visitor, I observe that the loop Road and its attractions are the focal point for traffic issues. Limited parking, cyclists and walkers along the road where no trail exists compound the traffic and safety issues Second, most parking lots at popular trail heads off State roads are too limited to hold the number of summer users.

    I see many users who do not purchase passes unless they choose to drive the Loop Road. Limiting traffic would most likely reduce pass sale income. It is too easy to park at Hull’s and take a Loop bus and not pay for a park pass. However, I can olny imagine the traffic congestion if the buses were not available’ This will be an interesting process.

    Thank you.


  6. Kathleen Fedorocsko

    We visit Acadia twice a year. As a casual observer, I feel the biggest impact on Acadia is the increasing number of cruise ships. Our trip in mid-October was mostly spent on the western side of the island, as the Loop and Cadillac Mountain were like being at a cheap Jersey Shore resort. Packed with people from the busses from the cruise ships. My view on Cadillac Mountain was 50 people standing in front of me taking pictures of the cruise ship they came from in the harbor. Busses crawled along the Loop, all the points along the Loop Road we wanted to stop at had no parking. Our family has visited at least once a year from PA for the past 34 years and maybe the past 10, the experience has been compromised more and more by the huge amount of ship-trippers. Renovation of the old Ferry Terminal will be the final nail in the coffin. It is my hope that FOA can make this point, of how we steady yearly tourists who respect and cherish the area and experience will soon be replaced by these masses who just check it off their bucket list and leave. Thank you.


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