- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Road signs directing motorists to the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument are going to be installed - eventually - now that Republican Gov. Paul LePage has relented in his opposition to the signs on Interstate 95 and state roads leading to the Mount Katahdin region.

The Maine Department of Transportation will allow signs to be manufactured and installed now that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended keeping the monument and a renewed request has been submitted by the superintendent for the federal land, the governor’s office said.

“This is fantastic news. This is what I’ve been waiting to hear,” Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated the land, said Tuesday.

It’s unclear when the signs would be installed, however.

The Maine DOT is still sorting out placement, size and costs, and there’s no timetable for erecting the signs, Ted Talbot, Maine DOT spokesman, said Tuesday.

The request made by Katahdin Woods and Waters Superintendent Tim Hudson, first reported by Maine Public, seeks six signs on Interstate 95 and 11 additional signs on major state roads.

The largest of the signs is roughly 8-by-22 feet and typically cost between $10,000 and $15,000, he said Tuesday.

The wooded wilderness includes a 17-mile loop road with stunning views of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain, along with trails for hiking, mountain biking and snowmobiling, and paddling on the Penobscot River’s East Branch.

But motorists would be hard-pressed to find it without a map. There are no official signs, and a homemade sign was removed by state officials.

St. Clair said he’s heard from many people who’ve inquired about which exit to take on I-95 or reported that they got lost.

Last year, the LePage administration balked at the signs pending completion of a review by the Trump administration. But Zinke has since visited the land, described it as “beautiful country” and recommended no changes to the 87,500-acre (137-square-mile) property.

Supporters of the federal land managed by the National Park Service said the lack of signs hurt the ability to draw visitors to the economically troubled Katahdin region.

Katahdin Woods and Waters was visited by at least 15,000 people in its first year, and the number doubles when snowmobiles are added to the mix.

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