Public hearing set for Old County Road intersection re-design

A ground level view of the Old County-State Road intersection, looking north on State Road toward Vineyard Haven, shows the dividers put in place to make the intersection safer. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

West Tisbury selectmen will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 13, on a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) redesign of the intersection of Old County Road and State Road in West Tisbury. The new design is a more T-shaped intersection rather than the “Y” shape of the present intersection.

The hearing begins at 4:30 pm at the selectmen’s meeting room in West Tisbury town hall. The hearing will precede the regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting.

DOT said the redesign will open up sight lines for drivers traveling from all directions and provide a less skewed approach from Old County Road toward State Road. The T-shape would force south-bound motorists to slow or stop before turning left onto Old County Road.

The proposed project consists of reducing the amount of pavement at the intersection while creating a 4-foot wide shoulder to accommodate bicycle traffic, according to a DOT public notice. The stop sign on Old County Road and green space remain. The plan makes turning onto or off of Old County Road more deliberate.

New signage will better inform the traveling public of the roadway configuration and the new design will improve traffic flow throughout the area. Public hearings are required on road projects at the “25 percent” design stage. The plans are available at the town hall.

The project is budgeted for $324,547, paid for by a combination of state and federal money.

The intersection has been the site of several serious accidents and a focus of town concern. Selectmen have sought ways to decrease the number of accidents at this intersection for at least 10 years, according to chairman Richard Knabel.

Efforts have included installing thin yellow pylons to prevent motor vehicles from cutting across oncoming traffic on State Road and reflective delineators placed in divots dug out along the edges of the intersection. The pylons, a tempting target for drivers, have been removed and replaced numerous times.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2014.