Oak Bluffs plans to get around to roundabout
Although Oak Bluffs still plans to construct a roundabout at the blinker intersection of Barnes Road and Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, construction is not likely to start before late 2010 or 2011, according to town administrator Michael Dutton.
"We're trying to incorporate a project of that magnitude with an eye towards all of the other construction that is going on, between the new building at Martha's Vineyard Hospital and the temporary Lagoon Pond drawbridge," he explained in a recent phone call.
In light of a few unexpected bridge closings over the past several months, as Mr. Dutton reminded, "Almost everyone who is driving on Martha's Vineyard will have to go through that intersection."
Over the winter and probably throughout next fall and winter, Oak Bluffs will have a lot of big projects going on, Mr. Dutton said, such as construction on the little and big bridges off State Beach, continuing hospital construction, and the projected start-up of YMCA construction. "We're doing our best to maintain traffic patterns and not adversely affect people's travel - and certainly not in the summer," he said.
Mr. Dutton said the timing of the roundabout project also is somewhat dependent on the State. "We do have a conceptual design on the roundabout, but no construction documents yet," he said. "Maybe we'll have those in the next year or so, but we've got plenty of time to do it right."
According to a Times article on May 18, 2006, construction costs would total between $400,000 and $450,000, which MassHighway and the Federal Highway Administration would be expected to furnish.
In the interim, funding is going to the Lake Avenue and Oak Bluffs Avenue project, which will address traffic and pedestrian safety with widened sidewalks, pedestrian bump-outs to provide safer crossings, and reconfiguration of the intersection by the Strand Theater, Mr. Dutton said.
"If all goes well in the next year or two, we're looking at possibly changing the parking pattern along the harbor," Mr. Dutton said.
One idea under consideration would be to switch parking from the harbor side to the inland side of Lake Avenue. "It's just in the talking stage - ultimately, our hope is to reduce traffic downtown," Mr. Dutton noted. "That way people coming into Oak Bluffs down New York Avenue wouldn't have to drive into town and turn around to park in the spaces by the harbor. It might calm traffic and slow it down along the harbor area."
A lack of urgency about building a roundabout at the blinker intersection will come as no surprise to many Islanders, given the long and contentious history of the issue. In 2004 the Oak Bluffs selectmen voted to build a roundabout to replace the four-way stop that had been implemented at the blinker intersection the year before. But less than a month after the board voted unanimously to hire en engineer to design the roundabout, they voted to scrap the project altogether.
In September 2006, the Oak Bluffs selectmen ended a longstanding debate over what to do at the blinker intersection and voted 3-1 to begin building a roundabout. The Martha's Vineyard Commission had released a 34-page report about the roundabout in April 2006, determining it was the safest solution compared to four other options, but the second highest in cost behind a traffic signal and turning lanes. At the time the selectmen approved the roundabout, the Martha's Vineyard Commission had not yet discussed whether the project would be designated and reviewed as a development of regional impact.