YORK
Holiday traffic through plaza increases slightly over 2009

Preliminary figures from the Maine Turnpike Authority indicate traffic during the holiday weekend increased over last year.

Complete traffic numbers were not yet available, but initial figures showed an increase during peak travel times. On Friday at the northbound toll in York, 33,302 vehicles passed through the plaza between the hours of noon and 10 p.m. That is slightly higher than the 32,953 vehicles that passed through the toll during the same period in 2009.

At the close of the weekend, 29,640 vehicles had passed through the toll plaza between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. This compares to 26,970 vehicles during the same period last year.

“It looks like we’re up almost 10 percent for those peak hours, which is somewhat unexpected,” said Dan Paradee, Maine Turnpike Authority spokesman.

The turnpike did not experience any major backups of vehicles waiting to pay the toll, but southbound traffic on Monday did slow after the toll plaza because of construction work in New Hampshire.

AUGUSTA
New Passport Program aims to raise state park visitation

Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands has launched a new program that aims to get more people out to state parks and historic sites.

The Maine State Parks Passport Program involves giving out a “passport” that participants can have stamped at each park they visit.

The booklet contains a descriptive page for each of the state’s 48 parks and historic sites.

As passport holders accumulate stamps, they can win prizes ranging from park patches and water bottles to a free seasonal park pass.

Bureau of Public Lands Director Will Harris said the program is designed to encourage people to get out in the fresh air and to increase visitation at the state parks.

BAR HARBOR
Part of Acadia park closes to protect peregrine nests

A part of Maine’s Acadia National Park is closed to the public to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

Park officials said the peregrines have been spotted around Beech Cliff on Echo Lake’s southwest side.

The Bangor Daily News said the closed areas are clearly marked.

Park rangers said that if the nesting effort appears unsuccessful, the area would be reopened.

If the peregrines successfully nest, the area will remain closed until about five weeks after the last chick leaves the nest.