Construction Bids Solicited and Groundbreaking Planned for Spring
March 11th, 2023
March 11th, 2023
BY STEPHANIE CLEMENT
The long-awaited Acadia Gateway Center took a big step forward recently when the Maine Department of
Transportation (MaineDOT) released a contract prospectus for construction. Bids closed in February and MaineDOT will select a contractor, with groundbreaking planned for this spring!
The goal is to complete construction in May 2025.
The Gateway Center will be located on the west side of Route 3 in Trenton in front of the existing maintenance facilities and offices for Downeast Transportation. The Center will serve as a location where visitors can plan their trips through Acadia, purchase park entrance passes, and board the Island Explorer.
The building will also feature a Maine State Visitor Information Center where visitors can learn about other destinations in Downeast Maine.
The project has been a priority for Friends of Acadia since 2004 when the organization purchased an option on 369 acres in Trenton — the future site of the Gateway Center — while MaineDOT completed an Environmental Assessment. Friends of Acadia then purchased the property in 2007 and sold the easternmost 152 acres bordering Route 3 to MaineDOT for the purpose of developing the Center and mitigating associated wetland losses.
Friends of Acadia retained the remaining 217 acres in tree growth tax status and built the Trenton Community Trail with technical expertise provided by the National Park Service’s Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program. We then granted a conservation easement to Maine Coast Heritage Trust on the remaining land and donated the parcel to the Town of Trenton. MaineDOT and partners inaugurated the Island Explorer maintenance facility and Downeast Transportation offices on-site in 2012.
The design of the upcoming visitor center and transit hub went through several revisions over the years to improve efficiency, lower construction costs, and incorporate new technologies. The majority of the estimated construction costs will come from the Federal Transit Administration. The National Park Service (NPS) has contributed $4 million in Centennial Challenge funds, matched and exceeded by transportation bonds and other funds provided by MaineDOT. Friends of
Acadia has pledged $1 million from the Acadia Experience portion of funds raised as part of the Acadia Second Century campaign. We have also pledged up to $225K for solar panels on the building to reduce environmental impact, as well as the long-term operational costs.
Many Friends of Acadia members have helped make the Acadia Gateway Center possible—from those who supported the initial purchase of the land to those who helped the Island Explorer expand, as well as those who contributed to the Greening Acadia Fund at the 2021 Benefit Auction that will help with the purchase of solar panels.
It’s truly time for a collective cheer as this long-lived project to improve visitor information and access to transit services comes to fruition!
STEPHANIE CLEMENT is Friends of Acadia’s Vice President of Conservation.