Lagoon Pond Bridge construction update
Work continues this summer on construction of a temporary Lagoon Pond drawbridge, alongside the existing one. Construction crews are now installing a retaining wall on the Oak Bluffs side of the drawbridge, according to Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) spokesman Adam Hurtubise.
At an Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting on July 22, selectman Greg Coogan, who frequently rides his bicycle across the bridge during the school year, expressed concerns about safety issues for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling across the bridge, due to a lack of needed signs.
Currently, Jersey barriers along a portion of the east side of the bridge block access to the shoulder. Before traveling over the bridge, bicyclists and pedestrians are expected to cross over to the Vineyard Haven harbor side of Beach Road.
However, as Mr. Coogan pointed out, there are no signs to direct them. As a result, some bicyclists and pedestrians attempt to travel along the Lagoon side of the bridge next to the Jersey barriers, which puts them close to traffic.
In a follow-up phone call yesterday, Mr. Coogan said, "I raised the issue because I followed a family on bicycles going across the bridge, coming from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs, and realized they didn't have any signage they saw, so they stayed alongside the Jersey barriers. It raised my concern as I drove across the bridge very slowly behind them, he said. "I realized that not every driver will be patient. With traffic coming the other way, it's not a comfortable situation, especially when it involves kids on bicycles. We've been lucky so far that no accidents have happened."
Recently, someone wrote the words "Cross Here" on an orange barrel at the entrance to the bridge. The improvised sign may not be noticeable to everyone, however. And, Mr. Coogan points out, there is no traditional crosswalk there, either.
"I've seen bicyclists and pedestrians try to cross there, but people aren't very patient. It looks like a crosswalk, but motorists don't treat it like one," he said.
Mr. Coogan said he also expressed concerns to Lagoon Pond Drawbridge Committee chairman Melinda Loberg, who attended the July 22 meeting, about plans to include only a single multi-use path on one side of the temporary and permanent replacement drawbridges. "I think we're in it for the long haul in terms of bike safety. If we're promoting people using bikes in the future, it's not a good situation if we're not providing safe access and a safe crossing for them," he said. "We made a huge stride in Oak Bluffs with New York Avenue this year in widening the shoulders of the road."
Ms. Loberg said in a phone call this week the drawbridge committee already had raised the issue of putting crosswalks and better signage at the bridge with MassHighway in past meetings.