Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is finally getting highway signs alerting drivers to its existence three years after it was created.

Crews planned to begin installing the first of 22 highway signs this week along Route 11 and on Interstate 95 between Medway and Island Falls, the National Park Service announced Friday evening. The work is expected to be completed by the end of November, in time for the growing number of snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts who visit parts of the 87,500-acre national monument during winter.

Katahdin Woods and Waters was designated as a national monument in August 2016 following years of contentious debate. But placement of signs has been delayed, first by politics and then by bureaucracy.

The administration of former Gov. Paul LePage, who vociferously opposed the monument’s creation, initially refused to install signs alongside I-95 or Route 11 while the Trump administration was conducting a review of Katahdin Woods and Waters along with several dozen other national monuments. But the LePage administration agreed to work with federal officials on the signs in April 2018 after it was clear that the monument designation would not be rescinded.

Signs were made and then put into storage while the National Park Service solicited bids to complete the work over the summer.

Six of the signs will be located along the I-95 corridor while the others will be erected along Route 11 in the Katahdin region.

“The sign placement is the culmination of a three-year effort to get informational signs for the monument approved, constructed and installed and included the coordination between the National Park Service, the Maine Department of Transportation and private sector contracts,” the park service said in a news release. “All contracts were awarded by the National Park Service.”

Donated to the park service by the family of entrepreneur and conservationist Roxanne Quimby, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is a cluster of properties located east of Baxter State Park. The monument’s most popular features are a 17-mile loop road that features scenic views of Mount Katahdin, as well as miles of frontage along the East Branch of the Penobscot River and Wassataquoik Stream.

 

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