State rejects State Road/Old County safety plan. Next, a new plan?

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) has rejected the West Tisbury selectmen’s request that traffic delineators be installed along State Road at the intersection with Old County Road. The intersection was the site of a recent auto accident, when a motorist making a left turn from State Road onto Old County failed to yield to down-Island bound traffic.

In June, the selectmen asked the DOT for the installation of the cone-shaped delineators as a temporary stop-gap effort to avert a potentially fatal accident, while they choose a preferred redesign of the intersection to be suggested to the DOT. In 2007, the DOT presented several redesign alternatives to the town but these were rejected. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) developed several other reconfiguration options, and these were taken under consideration by the selectmen, but no preferred design has been selected.

In a letter made public during the July 7 selectmen’s meeting, the DOT district highway manager wrote, “The installation of delineators on the center line of the road may have a detrimental effect on driver behavior due to the nonstandard use.” Selectman Richard Knabel said, “In their own bureaucratic way they do not want to put any money in.”

The letter states that the intersection has been given a top priority for the repainting of the existing pavement markings, but no date for this work was named.

Mrs. Rand also told the selectmen that a DOT road safety audit is scheduled for Tuesday July 13.

The West Tisbury selectmen asked the MVC to formally request the audit in June, after two auto accidents occurred at the intersection.

A road safety audit brings together a group of transportation experts with a variety of specialties to analyze the problem and recommend a solution. The transportation experts could include personnel from the state DOT and the federal government as well as town officials, according to Mark London, executive director of the MVC.

In other business, the selectmen unanimously approved the request of West Tisbury Free Library director Beth Kramer to begin the engineering and legal process needed to accept a property easement so that a well could be installed for the library. Timothy and Eileen Maley offered the easement on their property that abuts the library.

The library is in the process of applying to the state for a grant that would help to finance the renovation and expansion of the library. The state requires the identification of two potential sites; however, in public forums, town residents have expressed a preference for the expansion of the library on its current site. Mrs. Kramer said that the installation of the well is the only way the expansion could occur at the present location.

Mr. Maley said that “the offer was made partly in self-interest. I don’t want to have to ride my bike down to Lambert’s Cove. I like the library just where it is.”

Tree warden Jeremiah Brown was also given permission to consult town counsel to determine if the town has the right to demand that property owners cut down trees that are infected with Dutch elm disease. Mr. Brown said that several residents had asked him to intervene with their neighbors to have the trees cut down so that the disease does not spread across property lines.

The selectmen unanimously appointed Janet Banks to the Joint Transportation Committee of the MVC. The West Tisbury representative position on the JTC has been vacant for several years, and the selectmen thanked Mrs. Banks for volunteering.

And the selectmen also unanimously reappointed David Stein, Robert Potts, and Mrs. Banks to the Shared Use Path Committee. Mrs. Banks asked the selectmen to advertise for new members of the committee which, when appointed in 2008, had seven members. Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter said, “I do not think the committee accomplished anything in the last year and eight months.”

Mrs. Banks said that the committee went into a hiatus due to the illness of its chairman but would like to restart. The committee now intends to create long-range plans for the development of West Tisbury paths and to coordinate with the Land Bank and the MVC path systems to create access to all parts of the town and alleviate motorized traffic, she said.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell asked about the activities of the Paths Beside the Road Committee and its relationship to the Shared Use Path Committee.

Selectman Richard Knabel said that the creation of the Shared Use Path Committee was intended to lead to development of an overall paths plan for the town. “Part of the problem two years ago,” Mr. Knabel said, “was that this was a piecemeal approach that bothered a lot of people who thought there should be an overall plan that covers a lot of these issues.”

Mrs. Mitchell said there needs to be cooperation with the Paths Beside the Road Committee. “It seems that one of the first orders of business would be to come to agreement with them as to what their role is and what your role is,” she said.

Mrs. Banks said that it was her understanding that when the Shared Use Path Committee was formed, there was an attempt to bring the two committees together, but it was unsuccessful.