State, local and Acadia National Park officials gathered today to celebrate the groundbreaking of the $14 million Acadia Gateway Center, a multi-functional facility that will serve as the new gateway to Acadia National Park, as well as function as the home for the Island Explorer Transit system.
“Acadia National Park has long been a popular tourist destination. The new Acadia Gateway Center will welcome visitors and make Trenton a destination for those visiting Acadia. It will also enhance the services offered by the Island Explorer which decreases traffic congestion in Acadia National Park, improving the park experience for all who visit,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole.
The Acadia Gateway Center is a visitor center, intermodal transit center and bus maintenance facility located on Route 3 in the town of Trenton. Once completed, it will replace Acadia National Park’s Thompson Island Information Center, which has become too small to accommodate park visitors, and relieve visitor congestion at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center as well, which operates beyond capacity during the peak summer season. The Acadia Gateway Center will provide a permanent base for the fare-free, propane-powered Island Explorer.
The new Acadia Gateway Center is located on Route 3, approximately 3.5 miles south of the Trenton/Ellsworth town line. Partners in the multimillion-dollar project include the MaineDOT, Acadia National Park, Downeast Transportation, Inc., Friends of Acadia and the regional chambers of commerce.
Once complete, the center will help relieve existing traffic congestion, create new opportunities for visitors to find out more about Acadia and the region before entering the park, provide a permanent base for the Island Explorer buses, and make Trenton a destination for Acadia National Park Visitors.
The Island Explorer celebrated its 10th anniversary and its 3 millionth passenger this summer. Since 1999, more than 3 million passengers have ridden the Island Explorer, one million vehicles have been removed from park and local roads, and over 16 tons of air pollution has been eliminated. In 2008, average daily ridership was 4,978; and 8,440 passengers rode the Island Explorer on the peak day that summer.
The Acadia Gateway Center will help maintain a strong tourist industry, the number one industry in Maine. The Acadia National Park region is the leading summer-time destination in Maine. It is estimated that visitors to the park contribute more than $130 million to the state economy each year. Visitor spending creates 3,000 jobs within a 50-mile radius, in the areas of food, lodging, transportation, and souvenirs.
Funding for the project includes a combination of State and Federal funding, with federal dollars accounting for $10.6 million and the state supplying $3.3 million. Although the construction contract has not been officially awarded at this time, proposed construction bids have been opened and the apparent low bidder is Nickerson and O’Day Inc. of Brewer, Maine. Construction is set to begin this winter, and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2011. The Acadia Gateway Center will be designed to allow for future expansion through additional phases, including a larger visitor contact station and National Park Service theater if warranted.
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