National Park Service Completes Historic Carriage Roads Rehabilitation at Acadia National Park

VHB provided survey and roadway design to support the park with the preservation of this 45-mile network.

April 21, 2022

Acadia National Park recently completed a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the historic Carriage Roads—a 45-mile byway and bridge network that was gifted to the park by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Carriage Roads weave throughout the mountains of the park and provide hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders with access to panoramic vistas and direct views of the park’s landscape. VHB provided survey and roadway design to reestablish the original Carriage Road profiles, roadway crown, and drainage systems that were constructed between 1913 and 1940.

As an avid horseman, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. developed the Carriage Roads and bridge network along the contours of the mountains to provide a vehicle-free alternative for enjoying the landscape. The rehabilitation of the byways began in 1993 and was one of VHB’s first projects with the National Park Service. The first 39 miles of the Carriage Roads were rehabilitated in three construction phases that were completed in 1998. The final six-mile section around Eagle Lake was designed by VHB in 2019-2020 and completed construction in 2021. VHB also completed a systematic evaluation to determine the top 100 most restorable scenic vista locations on the Carriage Roads system and developed standard protocols for the park to use to restore them.

One of the 29 stone historic bridges of the Carriage Road network at Acadia National Park. A Carriage Road sign at Acadia National Park that reads, “Carriage Road.”  Scenic view along the shoreline at Acadia National Park.

“Acadia National Park is a public treasure, unique in its combination of cultural and natural resources,” said Tim Bryant, Maine Director of Structural Engineering who has worked with Acadia National Park since 1993. “With 3.5 million visitors per year, Park staff are balancing the increase of visitor needs while protecting the distinct and sensitive resources included within Acadia’s 47,000+ acres. VHB is honored to work in partnership with the NPS on a variety of infrastructure improvements as they face these challenges and develop future-focused, resilient solutions.”

In addition to rehabilitation of the Carriage Roads, VHB designed comprehensive rehabilitations of all 29 of the historic Carriage Road bridges in a series of projects between 1994 and 2010. This restoration work was carefully designed to preserve the historic integrity of the structures. In 2004, VHB was acknowledged by Maine Historic Preservation for excellence in historic landscape preservation and presented with a Statewide Historic Preservation Honor Award.

VHB has completed more than 20 projects within Acadia National Park within the last decade. In addition to the rehabilitation of the 45-mile Carriage Road network, VHB also provided design of the Frazer Creek Bridges and bike path on the Schoodic Peninsula and replacement of the Duck Harbor pier superstructure on Isle au Haut. VHB has also enhanced the visitor experience at the Jordan Pond House, a sought-out destination and restaurant in the southwest corner of Park Loop Road that has scenic views of the mountains known as “The Bubbles.” Our team reconfigured overflow parking lots to improve access for larger vehicles and created a more formal circulation pattern that improved visitor safety.

For more information about the types of services we provide for the National Park Service, visit our Federal Land Management page on our website or hear from our Federal Market Leader, Nancy Barker, on how we are helping to preserve America’s national treasures.