Old County-State Road intersection work to begin late next year

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

The state department of transportation (DOT) held a public hearing on the proposed new intersection at State Road and Old County Roads in West Tisbury last Wednesday, November 13. The hearing preceded the town’s selectmen’s meeting.

The redesigned intersection removes the gradual curved turn of north-south traffic onto and from State Road with more of a right angle turn that will require a more deliberate stop with the intent of reducing accidents at the intersection.

The project is managed and designed by state planners at a cost of $212,127 according to program managers at the meeting. Twenty percent of the funding is coming from the state and 80 percent from federal monies.

Richard Madsen, project manager, explained that the state found numerous deficiencies at the intersection. The sight distance for drivers approaching the intersection from the south on State Road, the placement of the stop sign on Old County Road, high approach speeds, lack of shoulders and a large roadway skew, or angle, were the major issues.

Mr. Madsen said, “The proposed improvements will T-up the intersection, slightly re-aligning the angle of the intersection, reducing speed, reduce the amount of the existing pavement, increase the green space, and increase the signage to better inform motorists as they approach the intersection.”

Traffic lights, warning lights and a three-way stop were considered as options but were found not to be viable options for the intersection.

Construction is scheduled to begin on the intersection in late 2014 or early 2015 and will not proceed during the summer months.

The project should be completed within one construction cycle, a 12-month period. There were questions from the floor asking for clarifications. The only suggestion came from selectman Jeffery “Skipper” Manter who said he thought the planners should consider increasing the turning radius to better accommodate large trucks. A PDF of the presentation with graphics can be found on the West Tisbury town website, http://www.westtisbury-ma.gov/.

The selectmen’s meeting followed the DOT presentation. Sam Hart, a board member of Adult and Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV), presented a description of the program with the stated intent of opening a dialogue with the town to help find ways to fund the program, which is suffering from reduced revenues.

ACE MV program director Lynn Ditchfield said that the adult educational program board is hoping to find a way that will allow Island towns to help fund their fiscal year 2015 budget. She said that even though there are more Islanders participating in the group’s programs than ever before, ACE is paring down its winter course offerings due to lack of funds.

Ms. Ditchfield said ACE will be moving next month from a home office to a new office, sharing space with Martha’s Vineyard Early Childhood Program and Island Grown Schools in the old Nathan Mayhew Seminars building on the corner of North William Street and Greenwood Avenue in Vineyard Haven.

ACE is looking for models of ways of funding the program, which will need about $130,000 from public funds, Ms. Ditchfield said.

A similar program on Nantucket works in conjunction with the public schools, and ACE is hoping to mimic it, she said. And while firmly stating that ACE has no intention of drawing money from the Island school budgets she said that the schools could possibly become a funding agent. “We are looking for suggestions from the towns on how the towns might fund us, but we would not take from the schools budgets. That’s very clear,” she said.

Selectman Richard Knabel said that the town cannot by law fund nonprofits and there is nothing the town can do to help until there is a legal way to fund the program. Echoing remarks from the other selectmen, he said, “I wish you all the luck in the world trying to make this happen, but you are going to have to do something before we can help.” He said the budgets for the 2015 fiscal year must be in by February of 2014.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell said that she would be willing to spend some of her own time to help find a way to keep the program alive.

Mr. Knabel announced that work is underway for the town holiday party, scheduled for 5 pm on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Ag Hall.