High visitation levels have led to temporary road closures at different locations in Acadia National Park. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Crazy busy: Gridlock closes Acadia roads



ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Holiday traffic had Acadia in a stranglehold the first two days of this week.

The Cadillac Mountain summit road was temporarily closed to upbound traffic three times on Sunday and four times on Monday because of gridlock at the top.

The Paradise Hill section of the Park Loop Road was closed for half an hour on Sunday because of a motor vehicle accident. Some visitors were turned away from the Ocean Drive section of the Loop Road due to congestion and full parking lots on Sunday, and for 20 minutes on Monday, that section was officially closed as a result of a backup caused by a disabled vehicle.

Part of the loop road in the Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia was closed for an hour and a half on Sunday because of gridlock at Schoodic Point.

The longest period of closure for the Cadillac Mountain road was just over an hour and a half Sunday evening. The shortest closure was 37 minutes Monday afternoon.

Last summer, the Cadillac Mountain road was closed on 12 occasions.

“We don’t like to have to do that,” park Superintendent Kevin Schneider told the Acadia Advisory Commission earlier this year. “But when it gets to the point that it’s so gridlocked that it’s not safe, we have to make those very difficult decisions.

“Congestion at the summit becomes so bad that it’s impossible to respond to emergencies up there,” he said. “It can take 30 to 45 minutes just to circulate through the summit area.”

The Ocean Drive section of the Loop Road was closed twice last year.

“Traffic became backed up to and beyond the entrance station at Sand Beach,” Schneider said.

Park officials are counting on the comprehensive, long-range transportation plan they are working on to provide some solutions to the traffic and parking problems that have increased dramatically in recent years and are seen as having a negative impact on both park resources and visitor enjoyment. The planning team is considering a number of alternative traffic management measures.

The planning process, which began in 2015, has included input from residents of Acadia’s neighboring communities.

By the end of this year, Kelly said, “We hope to have a draft set of alternatives and a draft environmental impact statement … to go out for another round of public comment. We’re shooting to have a final decision by late 2018.”

Updated July 5 at 10:50 a.m.

 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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