SSA parking plan revamped for season
The Steamship Authority (SSA) parking lot just got a summer makeover, in preparation for traffic to come. The new configuration put into place last week aims to move vehicles more efficiently through the lot and ease congestion on Water Street and into Five Corners, as well.
For those who have not driven into the SSA Vineyard Haven terminal parking lot for a while, the first time back may require paying a little closer attention to lane lines.
The parking lot lines were painted last Friday. To her relief, said Bridget Tobin, SSA terminal manager, "It all fell into place. Not one person came in and said 'what the heck did you do here?'"
The new SSA terminal lot design features a center lane and two rows of diagonal parking in the standing and waiting area. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Everything went smoothly during the first weekend the changes first were in place, Ms. Tobin said.
"This design seems to be working much better. You know people like it when you don't hear from them!" she laughed.
There are two lanes entering the lot, allowing for more vehicle access, which should help lessen traffic back-ups onto Water Street and possibly into Five Corners. Last summer, the SSA took some heat for traffic tie-ups around the terminal area caused by back-ups at the check-in booth. During summer's peak volume of ferry and vehicle traffic, sometimes lines of waiting vehicles snaked out from the SSA lot onto Water Street and up into Five Corners. To alleviate the problem, the check-in booth has been moved further into the vehicle staging area.
"It has gotten cars and semi's off the road so they are not backed up into Five Corners," Ms. Tobin said. SSA personnel will direct vehicles into standby and reservation lanes as usual.
In the new parking lot configuration, the pick up and drop off area now features a center lane to keep vehicles moving and is flanked by two rows of diagonal parking spaces.
Traffic coming off the ferries will exit onto Water Street as usual, but will be directed to the left towards Five Corners. The goal is to lessen traffic volume at the circle beyond the terminal where Vineyard Transit Authority buses pick up and drop off passengers. Diverting all ferry traffic towards Five Corners is tied into another change under consideration, which would make Union Street one way going towards Main Street and allow some traffic to exit Vineyard Haven via Church Street.
Over the winter, SSA officials contracted the Cecil Group to redesign the vehicle staging area. Ms. Tobin, who is a member of Tisbury's traffic review committee, shared draft plans of the proposed parking lot changes with the committee in January.
Before finalizing the plan, Ms. Tobin put up some traffic cones in the parking lot to try out the new configuration. She and other SSA officials found they needed to make a few changes during the trial phase.
"We're anticipating a good season. It's starting out really nice for me," Ms. Tobin said.