Visitors to Acadia National Park next summer might find it a little harder to make their way around the carriage road that circles Eagle Lake in Bar Harbor, one of the park’s more popular spots.
The National Park Service plans to close sections of the carriage road, which stretches for approximately 6 miles around the lake, as it makes improvements between April and November of next year, park officials said. The loop is a popular spot for cyclists and walkers, many of whom park during the busy summer tourist season along the sides of Route 233 where it passes the northern end of the lake.
Park officials said the planned improvements include:
— Replacing more than 6 miles of the existing carriage road surface and subgrade.
— Rehabbing drainage infrastructure including roadside ditches, stone-lined drainage channels and select culverts.
— Rebuilding sections of retaining walls.
— Stabilizing stone slope protection walls between the carriage road and areas with steeper slopes.
Park spokeswoman Christie Anastasia said Wednesday that the estimated cost for the project is $2.5 million, but that a more specific cost won’t be known until the park awards a contract for the work.
Reconstruction is expected to begin next spring near the southeast corner of the loop, where Bubble Brook flows into the lake, and then will proceed clockwise around the lake, with work expected to wrap up along the lake’s eastern shore next fall, Anastasia said.
Visitors should expect portions of the carriage road that circles the lake to be closed between April 15 and Nov. 15, depending on weather and how quickly the work progresses. The park will post updates on closures of sections of the loop on the “Current Conditions” page of its website, she said.
The project is expected to be the final piece of a yearslong effort by the park to rehabilitate Acadia’s extensive carriage road system, which consists of 45 miles of gravel roads, many of which were financed and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. on land he owned before he donated it to Acadia.
The carriage road system is heavily used during the summer, when the park hosts the majority of its visitors. Acadia had an estimated 3.53 million visits in 2018, which was the third year in a row that the number of visitors to the park set a record.
The carriage road system is open year-round to all nonmotorized users, including horseback riders and cross-country skiers, though certain classifications of electric-powered bicycles are allowed. Some activities might not be allowed at certain times of year depending on the condition of the carriage roads, such as when they are groomed for cross-country skiers or when they become soft during the annual spring thaw.