Missing signs tell visitors, well, nothing
Newly arriving Island visitors who drive off the boat at Vineyard Haven's Steamship Authority (SSA) terminal to the end of Water Street face two challenges. Not only do they have to navigate the overwhelming configuration of Five Corners, but they also have to take a guess on which way to go at the mystery crossroads - left, right, or straight to Oak Bluffs or up-Island? The unique signs decorated with a bunch of grapes that pointed the direction to up or down Island towns are no longer posted on the corner of Beach Road near the post office parking lot.
Former Tisbury selectman and Vineyard Haven resident Cora Medeiros wants to know why. Ms. Medeiros raised the issue of the missing signs during the public comment portion at the Steamship Authority's (SSA) board meeting on Tuesday. As the owner of the Sea Chest gift shop across the street from the Vineyard Haven SSA terminal, she observes first-hand the traffic flow - or back-up - on Water Street, which she believes is compounded by the lack of signage at Five Corners.
"I watch people come off the boat, because my store is right by the wharf," Ms. Medeiros explained in a follow-up phone call yesterday. "When traffic starts to back up on Water Street, you know it's because people have reached the corner and are sitting there trying to figure out which way to go."
With no signs to guide them at the Five Corners intersection, arriving visitors on Water Street in Vineyard Haven are on their own. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Ms. Medeiros said she had talked to Tisbury department of public works director Fred LaPiana and Ed Panek of MassHighways several times over the last several months, asking them to replace the signs.
Speaking to the Times in a phone call following the SSA meeting Tuesday, Tisbury department of public works director Fred LaPiana said the signage on State Road, including Beach Road, falls under the jurisdiction of MassHighways. A number of signs need to be fixed or replaced in Tisbury and Oak Bluffs, Mr. LaPiana said, and he has been told the state will begin doing that soon.
In response to Mr. LaPiana's remarks, a MassHighways employee said White Brothers-Lynch Corporation removed the town direction signs at Five Corners while reconstructing the post office parking lot last September. He said he thought that the original had been destroyed.
At MassHighways' request, White Brothers-Lynch Corporation made a set of green signs with white lettering to replace the Oak Bluffs and up-Island signs, the highway department employee said. He recently submitted photos of them to the district office, asking for approval to use them temporarily until the Island-style sign can be replaced. He expects approval shortly, and the temporary signs to go up as soon as possible.
Although Ms. Medeiros said she thought she saw the old Island-style signs sitting next to the DPW garage, Mr. LaPiana said they were not. One was a sign erected in front of the Advest company on State Road a few weeks ago to direct drivers to Vineyard Haven and West Chop, he explained.