An announcement last week that Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park is scheduled to be shut down for two months this spring raised concerns in some quarters that tourism might be adversely affected. A closer examination of the actual plan, coupled with the reality of the work scheduled to be done, suggests any impact should be minimal. And, work is slated to be done before Memorial Day.
Currently, the sidewalks, stairs and safety railings at Thunder Hole are in serious need of repair due to the constant battering from waves, and the corrosive effect of salt water.
Work will be limited to the public areas immediately around the feature. Ocean Drive will remain open, as will the rocky shores on either side of the actual work area. Several miles of spectacular rock-bound coast will continue to be open and accessible to visitors. That should be more than enough to satisfy even the most ardent surf watcher.
In fact, on most days, Thunder Hole offers up little more than a low rumble as it takes the right combination of wind direction and timing of the tide for it to really blow.
Also this spring, maintenance crews will be working on repairs to some bridges along the Park Loop Road. As previously announced by the park, traffic will be down to one lane at some underpasses. Buses and other large vehicles will need to detour.
Again, that work is scheduled to be done before peak season arrives. More importantly, doing it this season precludes the potential for even greater disruption should larger than normal crowds of visitors turn up during the park’s Centennial Celebration in the summer of 2016.
From a tourism standpoint, much more worrisome might be the projected start of work on rebuilding Route 3 in Bar Harbor, beginning in 2016.
While any major construction or maintenance work on key infrastructure elements in the park can have ripple effects across the island, Acadia’s managers have worked hard to produce a plan the minimizes disruptions and inconvenience. When forced to close some areas for needed work, there is no gain without some pain. However, the net result is a better, safer, more attractive park and an improved visitor experience for everyone.