Construction underway for new transit hub near Acadia National Park

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:19 PM EDT
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TRENTON, Maine (WABI) - The Island Explorer has helped visitors and folks Downeast get around town during the summer season.

Monday, Maine DOT joined local, state, and federal partners from both public and private sectors to celebrate beginning construction on the new Acadia Gateway Center.

“Twenty-five years ago, a group of 20 partners joined together in a memorandum of understanding, which outlined a three-phase plan for the transit system we’ve come to know as Island Explorer. Here we stand a quarter century later, witnessing the culmination of their vision as we break ground on the last piece of phase three,” said Paul Murphy, executive director of Downeast Transportation.

The project is said to take two years to complete and will offer connect transit options, allow folks to purchase park passes, and have regional tourism information.

“This will just up the game really. It’ll have the information that we can provide to visitors, so they visit responsibly they visit safely, and they visit in a way that protects our state and the quality of life of our residents,” said Hannah Collins, deputy director of the Maine Office of Tourism.

Acadia was the fifth most visited national park in 2022.

So, parking and access to the park has become more challenging over the years.

This will act as a visitor center and transit hub will help to mitigate the traffic.

“If you got to visit Thunder Hole or Sand Beach on a weekend in July and August, you might be spending half an hour like just circling the lot looking for that spot. Or you can hop on the bus, get right out and get right to Thunder Hole or Sand Beach. Which experience do you want?” said Eric Stiles, Friends of Acadia President and CEO.

With the use of the Island Explorer and electric vehicle charging stations, it aims to help preserve the land by reducing emissions.

“This facility is, I believe, a model for what we can do around the country. Because the problem isn’t so much the people in national parks, it’s vehicles. And what we’re talking about here is the ability to park your vehicle here, get on the bus and enjoy the national park without having to worry about a parking place and without having to worry about all the all the pollution that’s created and the traffic and the time that that takes,” said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.