TRENTON, Maine — The new Acadia Gateway Center is now under construction in Trenton.
The project’s expected to create a better experience for people visiting the park.
The almost $30 million project features: geothermal heating and cooling systems, rooftop solar panels, electric charging stations, and parking.
Residents and visitors can leave their cars at the hub and hop onto free buses to travel around Mount Desert Island and to Acadia National Park.
National Acadia Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider says this new addition will help set Acadia apart.
Schneider expressed, “One of the questions we often get is: tell us about the Island Explorer. Tell us about this incredible bus system. How do we replicate that in other parks, in Glacier National Park for example? How do we do it? What’s the secret in the sauce? And that secret [is] the people. It’s the partnerships that make this bus go!”
The Island Explorer started in 1999, and the idea for the transit hub came about in 2002.
Eric Stiles, president of Friends of Acadia says, “This is going to allow people that are coming to get out of their cars, hop in a bus, go shop in places like Bar Harbor, have a world-class experience, in one of our nation's, in my opinion, best national parks.”
Stiles shared that the new Acadia Gateway Center was first envisioned about 20 years ago, and will bring much-needed amenities to the area.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, says traffic issues aren't unique to Acadia National Park.
“We are loving our national parks to death. And one of the issues, one of the primary issues that manifests itself is traffic,” King said.
King added that Acadia National Park is the most visited park per square footage in the county. National Parks are experiencing “over visitation” in recent years.
“Mary and I have been to Yosemite a couple of times. And you go to Yosemite. You spend half your time there literally driving around looking for a parking place. That's not the experience people are looking for when they come to a national park!” King said.
Parking at Acadia is a big issue in the summer months. Organizers see the transit as the answer to provide a more pleasant vacation experience in Downeast Maine.
“Good things sometimes take time,” Stiles said. The project is now in its final phase.
“They are recognizing that this is God's place that needs a little bit of extra help. That little bit of extra help gets more folks into the buses and out into the park, and out in our communities,” stated Stiles.
The final phase of construction for the Acadia Gateway Center broke ground on Monday. Organizers hope to wrap up the construction project by 2025.