October 15, 2018
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Acadia delays some road openings after harsh winter

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
A small gulley cuts across Lurvey Spring Road after winter precipitation and runoff washed away part of the dirt road. Unusual weather this past winter, which also resulted in flooding and freezing at Acadia Sieur de Monts Spring, caused damage to several dirt roads in the park on the western side of Mount Desert Island. Acadia officials say the seasonal opening of the roads, including Seal Cove and Western Mountain roads, will be delayed and that Lurvey Spring Road might not be opened to any vehicle traffic this summer.

A punishing winter left deep ruts and exposed culverts that have delayed the reopening of three unpaved Acadia National Park roads.

Seal Cove, Western Mountain and Lurvey Spring roads typically open to motor vehicles on May 15, but the damage will likely keep them closed for a few more weeks. However, hikers, bicyclists and walkers are still welcome, Acadia spokeswoman Christie Anastasia said.

This could be a critical year for the park, which attracted a record 3,509,271 visitations in 2017. Surprisingly, the 2017 visitations surpassed those of 2016, the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.

[Study: Acadia visitors spent $284 million in Maine in 2017]

Park officials unveiled a new traffic plan on which they are collecting public comments, and the town of Bar Harbor will on Monday review a business plan for a former ferry terminal off Route 3 that the town is considering buying for $3.5 million.

Bar Harbor officials hope that the terminal can be remade as a multi-use marina that will divert tourist traffic from the park and downtown. Bar Harbor voters will have the final say on the purchase in a referendum next month.

To prepare for an increased number of tourists, park maintenance workers are examining the three roads but also proceeding with repairs on other park features damaged by winter cold and spring flooding, Anastasia said.

“The repair of Seal Cove is the first priority. The local communities use it to access the back side of the island,” Anastasia said Thursday.

Then Western Mountain Road and connecting unpaved roads will be opened to motor vehicles, with Lurvey Spring Road to follow.

[Rare icy conditions at Acadia’s birthplace create skaters’ paradise]

Last winter’s repeated freezing rain, thawing, and melting snow hit Lurvey the hardest. Traditionally maintained to standards linked to an overall lower level of traffic, Lurvey might not open at all this year, Anastasia said.

Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Echo Lake Beach Road and Thompson Island Picnic Area opened last month, while the Sand Beach Entrance Station opened May 1. The extent of damage to the Sieur de Monts Nature Center, which was flooded by rainwater and frozen by wild weather fluctuations in late January, is being verified, Anastasia said.

Flooding or a power surge might account for the partial electrical outage at the center. No repair estimates from the winter damage are yet available, Anastasia said.

Park officials will hold informational sessions on their draft transportation plan. They will speak at Southwest Harbor Public Library on Monday, Northeast Harbor Library on Tuesday and Jesup Memorial Library of Bar Harbor on Wednesday. All talks will start at 7 p.m.

The plan and its environmental impact statement are available at nps.gov/AcadiaPlan. The public is invited to comment on those plans online or in letters until June 26.

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