Kevin Schneider, superintendent of Acadia National Park. At a recent Bar Harbor Town Council meeting, Schneider said that he expects a draft transportation plan for the park to be ready by spring. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Acadia transportation plan expected in spring 2018

BAR HARBOR — The intent of the transportation plan currently being developed by Acadia National Park, Superintendent Kevin Schneider told the Town Council here Tuesday, is to accommodate growing numbers of visitors.

In 2016, the park had a record 3.3 million visitors and is on pace to pass that this year. The plan was unveiled in October 2016, with four preliminary options under consideration.

Schneider described the process of drafting the plan as “deliberate,” as the park is such a complex entity in the Mount Desert Island community.

“It’s a complex place [that’s] in and out of communities,” he said. “Some aspects of this decision could take years.”

He said that the park is considering parking reservations for private automobiles through the park’s website or a mobile app.

“If people could see that parking was full, it would decrease the frustration for people [driving] all the way there,” Councilor Matt Hochman said.

Schneider said the park had to close the Cadillac Mountain entrance on a number of occasions due to congestion at the summit’s parking lot. He said rangers have logged 400 cars on the road on busy mornings despite there being only 150 parking spots at the summit.

“We managed Cadillac more aggressively,” he said. “That’s not a positive visitor experience if they can’t [go up.]”

Councilor Gary Friedmann asked if the park’s plan would integrate with ongoing transportation-related planning in Bar Harbor. Schneider assured councilors that the plan would not push any congestion out of the park and into the town.

Friedmann also asked about charging stations for electric cars, and Schneider said that the park was planning not only for electric cars, but for autonomous — self-driving — ones, too.

“We’re paying close attention to the larger world around us,” Schneider said.

Schneider said that the Island Explorer bus system would be integral in any plan that they consider.

He said that the park has analyzed alternatives and is currently vetting the document. He said that a draft of the document should be ready by spring 2018, and public comment sessions are planned then.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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