MOUNT DESERT — Drivers beware. You could find that your early morning trip to Mount Desert Island takes longer than usual during the next two weeks.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department gave notice Monday that Atlantic Landscaping would be moving 16 oversized trees from their location on Route 1A in Ellsworth to an estate being built in Northeast Harbor. Weather permitting, one tree a day was to be moved, starting Tuesday.
That plan has changed several times since. The number of trees now stands at seven. The first trip, set for Tuesday, was postponed. It was rescheduled for 6 a.m. on Wednesday but later delayed until 9 a.m. to avoid the heaviest morning commuter traffic. Any move will depend, as well, on the weather.
Late Tuesday night, Wednesday’s convoy was scrubbed entirely. The latest updates going forward will be posted on the Islander’s Facebook page and at www.mdislander.com.
According to Lieutenant Tim Cote, the sheriff’s department expects any disruption to traffic to be minimal. Referring to an incident several years ago where Atlantic Landscaping moved a gigantic apple tree to the Charles Butt estate in Northeast Harbor, Cote said, “We’re making every effort to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
For one thing, the trees, mostly evergreens, are not expected to take up more than one lane of traffic as was the case with the apple tree. In addition, there is less traffic along the route at this time of year than in summer, when the apple tree was moved.
Wide loads are moved routinely along Route 3 including modular home sections and larger boats.
Maine Department of Transportation sensors log an annual average count of 13,000 vehicles crossing the Thompson Island Bridge daily.
Deputies will lead and back up the procession in cruisers with lights flashing. Until the first trip is made, the sheriff’s department has no estimate on how long it will take the trees to reach their destination, Cote said.
Cote was unsure where the trees are headed. But another source said they are destined for the property on Somes Sound where billionaire Steven Rales is building a summer home.
Any large loads headed there would use Route 102 from the head of the island to Route 198 in Somesville.
Moving the trees at night is not an option, Cote said. State law requires oversize loads to travel in daylight. No trees are expected to be moved on weekends, officials said Monday.
For updates, Cote suggests calling the Hancock County Regional Communications Center at 667-7576.