Plans for Vineyard Haven connector road await Tisbury voters' action
Plans for a proposed connector road that will link Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road to State Road in Vineyard Haven got an airing Monday night at a public hearing at the Tisbury department of public works building, one week before the proposal will be presented to Tisbury voters at a special town meeting on Tuesday, November 1.
Under the current plan three connector roads would branch off from the State Road as it passes through the commercial district that stretches from Crane Appliance to just past Cronig's Market and intersect the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road along the access driveway now used by Island Food Products near where the Edgartown National Bank branch is located.
The connector road is designed to ease traffic congestion at the intersection of State Road and Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, a familiar bottleneck, particularly during the summer months.
Warrant article 15 asks voters to approve the location of the proposed layout of the connector road system and authorize the public works commissioners to begin negotiations for the acquisition of easements and lands required for its construction.
Only two members of the public attended the Monday night meeting at which Fred LaPiana, Tisbury department of public works director, Tony Peak, planning board chairman, and Henry Stephenson, planning board member and the architect who drew up the design concept, outlined the details of the connector road system to John Thayer, Arthur Dickson, Fred Thifault and Dave Ferraguzzi, public works commissioners.
The idea of the connector road took hold after a traffic survey conducted by the planning board confirmed a favorable response from Islanders. The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) then reviewed the concept and concluded the road would work best with three outlets onto State Road, at Evelyn Way, High Point Lane, and Holmes Hole Road. The access to the Edgartown Road would be near the IFP building. From Edgartown Road, the connector road heads across town land and Land Bank property, where it converges with the road system leading to the three State Road outlets. Drivers can choose to turn right, heading past the DPW building to reach Evelyn Way, continue on to High Point Lane, the access road to the Park and Ride, or turn left and loop around the Park and Ride lot and landfill to Holmes Hole Road.
If voters approve Article 15 next week, the next step will be preparation of actual layouts for the roads, said Mr. LaPiana, along with cost data. About 600 to 650 feet of existing road will be improved, with roughly 5,000 feet of new roadway added, he said.
Mr. LaPiana estimates materials alone, plus repaving, would cost about $350,000, but adding in earthmoving and tree removal costs will likely bring the total cost to about $1,000,000.
In trying to determine a construction timeline, Mr. LaPiana said he figures it will take a couple more town meetings before the funding process is completed. "At the earliest, it will probably be fall of 2007 before we would even put a shovel in the ground," he said. "But we need to move on it soon, or the land and easements might not be available in the future."
Daniel Whiting, an interested community member, questioned whether three entrances off State Road were necessary. Mr. Thayer told him that future traffic projections indicate one would not be enough.
Mr. Thayer cited an MVC study that concluded, "…in 10 years, we would have gridlock at every Vineyard Haven intersection." Redistributing the traffic, he said, "…buys us a little bit of time."
Tisbury's planning board views the connector road as a plus not only for relieving traffic at the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road intersection, but also for providing a good link to the Park and Ride lot to increase mass transit usage, explained Mr. Peak. The road also will help reduce response time for firefighters, police officers and ambulances, if Tisbury voters approve the location of a proposed emergency services facility off High Point Lane.
The planning board envisions bicycle and pedestrian pathways within the connector system, as well, and Bill Veno, an MVC staff member, is working with a citizens committee to develop such a plan.
Mr. Peak said the new connector road system has the potential to open up a new area of development that could offer mixed use for further commercial development, along with apartments or housing.
The connector road system also would allow for the creation of a new neighborhood, said Mr. Stephenson, in an area convenient to shopping, downtown Vineyard Haven, Tisbury School and the Tisbury Senior Center.
Almost all of the land that will be used for the connector road system is town-owned, Mr. LaPiana pointed out, with a few sections belonging to commercial or industrial owners who view the project as a benefit to their businesses.
An initial informal report from a surveyor indicates the topography does not appear formidable for constructing the roads, Mr. LaPiana said. However, construction around the existing water tower may prove difficult, he explained.
If the water tower route cannot be used, the existing route off High Point Lane will be used instead. The road also must be located a safe distance from the edges of the landfill's clay liner.
Describing the "character" of the road to be built, Mr. Stephenson likened it to West Spring Street, basically a two-lane country road with landscaping. The MVC will offer landscaping suggestions, and plans to conduct traffic studies at the proposed intersection for the connector road with Edgartown Road.