To the Editor:
I find myself both puzzled and dismayed by Acadia National Park’s attempt to transform Schooner Head Road, a once relatively quiet access to residential neighborhoods and the Schooner Head Overlook, into a MAJOR highway for entry into the park. With the proposed “timed entry” reservation system, Schooner Head Road will now become the ONLY exit route for thousands of visitors who have traveled along the Park Loop Road but have no timed entry access pass to travel the one–way route along Ocean Drive.
A once quiet road, which provided a safe biking or hiking route for families, children and those unable to hike some of the more strenuous trails in the park, has now become a major expressway for cars, trucks and sizeable campers who aggressively barrel their way toward the park entrance station at speeds that far exceed any posted speed limits.
The drastic change in traffic flow, along a road that was never intended to be a major highway, is unsettling. On Saturday, Oct. 3, due to the excessive number of cars and trucks, traffic flow came to a standstill at the Schooner Head Overlook, and the park was forced to close access to the parking area. It required at least four park employees to direct traffic through the “deadlock” that was created, resulting in a parade of 20 to 25 cars at a time, in continuous groups, traversing out of the park along Schooner Head Road back toward alternative entry options along Route 3. The resulting mayhem was compounded by the throngs of cars that were attempting to access the ANP entrance station via Schooner Head Road, an unfortunate consequence of current directional smartphone apps that direct users to Schooner Head Road as the shortest and, in some instances, the only access to arrive at this destination.
The long–term impact that this traffic pattern will ultimately have upon the residential neighborhoods along Schooner Head Road, the employees and potential new residents of the proposed JAX housing development and our community at large has yet to be determined. I think that these are crucial issues that must be cautiously considered before arriving at any final decision regarding timed entry, direction of traffic flow and the final choice of location for the entry station.