Tisbury hearing paves the way for connector road design
The project team for Tisbury's proposed connector road presented the final design and received some helpful suggestions from Islanders regarding access and bike paths at a public hearing last week.
The connector road will offer motorists the option to cut over from Edgartown-Vineyard Haven (ET-VH) Road along the access driveway now used by Island Food Products near the Edgartown National Bank branch and exit from either High Point Road or Holmes Hole Road onto State Road.
Tisbury's board of public works held the public hearing on March 2 at the town's senior center. About 20 people attended, including some members of Tisbury's planning board, the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) bicycle and pedestrian planning advisory committee (PAC), and MVC staff.
The MVC prepared and presented a connector road traffic study interim report to the Tisbury Planning Board on March 16, 2005. The following November Tisbury voters approved the location of the connector road for the purpose of easing traffic congestion at the intersection of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road.
In April 2009 voters approved borrowing $2.5 million to fund the connector road's design and construction.
The connector road design is a joint effort, as engineer David Giangrande, president of Design Consultants, explained at last week's hearing. Among his firm's contributions were roadway and drainage design, and general traffic studies.
Engineer Mark White represented Environmental Partners Group, which handled geotechnical, landfill, and permitting issues.
Other project team members included landscape architect Chris Huntress of Huntress Associates, and Tom Allen of Riverside Engineering, who provided funding advice. They did not attend the hearing.
The design process over the last nine months also included Tisbury's department of public works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana, the board of public works (BPW), and the Tisbury Planning Board. The board of health also was involved because of environmental issues connected with construction around the perimeter of the capped landfill.
Mr. Giangrande began the hearing by highlighting the challenges of designing the connector road, in terms of site constraints and the proximity of the landfill.
Among the project's key issues, the existing intersections of State Road at Highpoint Lane and Holmes Hole Road were tight on turning space for trucks and buses and required adjustments. The proposed design includes three-lane approaches for those intersections, Mr. Giangrande said.
Joe Tierney, a lieutenant in Tisbury's volunteer fire department, asked about adding a dedicated left-hand turn lane on ET-VH Road for motorists waiting to turn onto the connector road. Mr. Giangrande agreed it was an idea the project team would consider.
Other design issues had to do with the site's hilly topography, which will require careful grading and variations in the road profile. And as an added concern during the construction process, every precaution must be taken to avoid disturbing the landfill and to protect its cap.
Mr. Giangrande said the project team recommends applying for a state-funded Public Works Economic Development (PWED) grant to pay for the construction of the connector road and a shared use path (SUP), at an estimated cost of $3.6 million.
Mr. Giangrande said the PWED grant application will be prepared over the next few weeks, ready to submit if the voters approve it.
Tisbury's April 6 special town meeting warrant will include two articles with non-money requests regarding the connector road. One deals with remaining land/easement issues. The second seeks approval of the connector road design and layout, permits the selectmen to seek funding for the construction, and authorizes the BPW to construct the road once funding is secure.
A portion of the connector road corridor design includes an SUP for bicyclists and pedestrians. The proposed SUP runs from the State Road intersection along High Point Lane. At the intersection of High Point Lane with the transfer station and park and ride roads, the SUP transitions to an off-road path adjacent to the connector road, which runs past the department of public works. The SUP would end at a crosswalk opposite the entrance to Sailor's Burying Ground Road.
Several bicycle and pedestrian PAC members raised concerns about bicyclists not using the path because of its steep grade.
An SUP for the other portion of the connector road along Holmes Hole Road, is shown on the design plan as a future development, to be built with separate funding. Because of real estate issues involved, the SUP would be constructed separate from the road and run through the woods.
Unfortunately, the path would skirt the Sanborn Well site, which requires special permitting from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Mr. Giangrande said. He expects a formal decision from the DEP on whether a path would be allowed there in a few weeks.
Mr. LaPiana said the Sanborn Way-Holmes Hole Road SUP is included in an Island-wide bike and pedestrian path plan that the MVC hopes to fund through a federal Transportation Improvement Program grant.
Planning board co-chairman Tony Peak suggested that the project team should come up with a cost estimate for the second SUP, and also consider including it in the connector road project.
In a phone call after the hearing, Mr. LaPiana said he thought that the hearing's outcome was very positive.
As Mr. Peak suggested, Mr. LaPiana said the project team would attempt to include the second piece of the bike path in the connector road project.
"Either way, we'll be ready to go forward with the construction of that leg of the bike path; it's just a question of who's going to pay for it," he said.
Mr. LaPiana especially appreciated Mr. Tierney's suggestion and thanked him after the hearing. "I always thought about a third turning lane [on the connector road] coming down off the hill, near Island Food Products," he said. "But coming off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, now that's something new."
Mr. LaPiana said there is room on the town-owned road for a turn lane, which could be added to the scope of the connector road project if the engineers recommend it.