Scenic Byway will preserve 'Maine' view

TOWNSHIP D — A bald eagle  soared high over the Height of Land overlook beside Route 17 Saturday morning just prior to a groundbreaking ceremony for a $2.9 million reconstruction.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

With Old Blue and Elephant mountains in the background, Gov. John Baldacci, center, talks with state and local dignitaries Saturday morning while waiting for a groundbreaking photo session to start for the new $2.9 million reconstruction project at the Height of Land overlook in Township D near Rangeley.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

During Saturday's dedication and groundbreaking ceremony in Oquossoc and Township D for the new $2.9 million Height of Land reconstruction project, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust President Ed Kfoury, right, suddenly reached across the trust's sign at Height of Land to shake hands with Gov. John Baldacci.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

A large crowd gathered atop the Height of Land overlook beside Route 17 late Saturday morning to witness a groundbreaking ceremony by state and local officials for the new $2.9 million reconstruction project at the scenic turnout. Behind them sprawls Mooselookmeguntic Lake.

From far below in Bemis Stream Valley came the muted rumble of heavy equipment at a logging operation as Gov. John Baldacci, representatives of Maine members of Congress, state Reps. Sheryl Briggs and Jarrod Crockett, officials from the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust and other state and local officials gathered for the occasion.

All had a hand in bringing the Scenic Byway to fruition after 40 years of false starts, and working to conserve 500 acres around the overlook and down to the waterline that was bought in 2007 by the trust.

“It's all about that view,” Baldacci said, staring out over the tops of trees at Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the Bemis Mountain Range.

“That view says 'Maine,'" Baldacci said. "It gives people an inspiration and it's going to be that way forever.”

Rebecca Kurtz, Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway coordinator, said the project is expected to take 12 to 18 months and provide 100 construction jobs. Contractor Pike Industries is set to begin this fall.

Route 17 will be pushed 10 to 15 feet east into the woods from its current location at the overlook, Kurtz said.

A mile of new road will be built higher than the current road, which will be made into the overlook turnout, complete with a picnic area and parking.

“There will be a terraced road with a green median and a turnout so, as you drive by, you can still catch the view,” Kurtz said.

The picnic area will consist of stone tablet picnic tables.

“The Lands for Maine's Future program invested in this project as part of their focus on coordination with economic development goals of local communities,” said Alan Stearns, deputy director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Land for Maine's Future invested $379,000 in the project in a 2007 bond issue approved by voters, trust Executive Director Nancy Perlson said.

"This would not have happened without the support of the Land for Maine's Future program," Perlson said.

Stearns said the project will include a new trail head for the Appalachian Trail, which summits Route 17 just down the road from the overlook.

“We were very conscious of the access point to the trail head and that we improve it,” said Larry Johannesman, senior landscape architect for the Maine Department of Transportation.

“Hikers will be able to walk behind a new section of guardrail in this overlook,” Johannesman said. “We designed that in there. They can walk down behind the guardrail safely to get to the trail.”

The area now is unsafe for parking and hiking, Stearns said.

“So, having parking off the road and better crossings of the road for the Appalachian Trail will be good both for hiking and tourism,” he said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

 's picture

A Selectve View

“It's all about that view,” Baldacci said, staring out over the tops of trees at Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the Bemis Mountain Range.

“That view says 'Maine,'" Baldacci said. "It gives people an inspiration and it's going to be that way forever.”

But... it's NOT going to be that way forever. Not if Governor Baldacci has his way. The governor is directly responsible for LD2283, the "Expedited Wind Permitting Law" which removed the public's right to object to a wind turbine development based on its scenic impact.

This law can be view in its entirety at : http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_123rd/billtexts/SP0908...

It is unconscionable that our administration has sold our mountaintops to the wind industry, which had a direct hand in writing this misguided law. One example of how a wind developer contributed to the fashioning of this law can be found at: http://highlandmts.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/comments_rob_gardiner_...

These two documents tell a story that few Mainers are aware of. And that is only the tip of the iceberg...

Governor Baldacci is selective in what bit of view says "Maine". When he wants money for a scenic turn-out, then the view from there of Mooselook and beyond is priceless, and has value--not only in its beauty, but in its economic draw. But if he wants money from industrial wind (or 'energy'... the field in which he hopes to work once his term is up in January) then the view of mile upon mile upon mile of 400 foot tall turbines and mile after mile after mile of high voltage transmission corridors must also say "Maine".

Governor Baldacci needs to stop being so selective and make up his mind. Or better yet, since he's proven over and over again to the people of this state that he does not have the desire to put that mind to work for the betterment of the citizens and the natural resources of Maine, he should resign now. Please, sir. Do us a favor. Resign... while this is still, "Maine... the way life SHOULD be".

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Baldacci is the worst gov. we have ever had!

His term can't end soon enough for me.

Him and his wind power "task force" have destroyed and are in the process of destroying ridgelines and mountaintops all over Maine. Where is his "concern" about the views in those places?

 's picture

Good news

Glad to see this will include a place for hikers and parking, both of which have ben neglected by past improvements.

Doreen Sheive's picture

Beautiful and breathtaking

This is a beautiful site, however, for the people such as I who are afraid of heights, it was extremely scary. Maybe I will feel safer with a guard rail.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...