Editorial: Connector road, redux

It’s too soon to say mission accomplished, but the decision by Tisbury voters to proceed with planning and funding the so-called connector road between State Road and the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road is a smart one.

That movement toward the valuable link that would bypass occasionally snarled State Road and relentlessly challenging Five Corners has been a good idea in waiting for 25 years. Vineyarders take the whack-a-mole approach to change, figuring if we can only keep discouraging the notion, maybe it will go away. If it persists in attracting favorable attention for a quarter century, maybe we’ll give up. But not necessarily.

Of course, there’s a lot to iron out before the road is built, including planning for the access points at State Road and the configuration of the state highway at the other end. Plus, there’s the funding problem. State or federal funding for anything these days is problematic. Easements must be obtained. The road’s design, and that of its companion shared-use path will attract criticisms. It’s not unreasonable to anticipate considerable delay before the road builders begin work. But, we hope not.

Now, this project has the wise backing of the town planning board. Twenty-five years ago the project was entwined with a development plan for the vacant site of the former Nobnocket Garage. It was a plan that attracted insufficient backing, and withered. That business-zoned site has remained in its forever-wild condition for a quarter century.

The funding that the town needs for this more broadly supported connector project will be sought from the state’s Public Works Economic Development grant, which is entirely appropriate. The project has a $3.6 million price tag, but its value to the town and the Island is immense, in terms of both economics and convenience.

Chief among the benefits will be the decongestion during the intense in-season months of the State Road-Five Corners-Beach Road Tisbury business district. That doesn’t mean that everyone will avoid downtown Tisbury. Of course they will not. It does mean that some significant portion of North Shore, Lambert’s Cove, North Tisbury traffic headed to Oak Bluffs, the high school, community services, the Y, and points east will be shunted away from the Five Corners, where only the bravest gamers make it through.

That, in turn, may mean that some expansion or development of business may be allowed in the Tisbury business zone, which is now, in light of the seasonal traffic overload on State Road, a business zone in name only.

And, of course, it will become a new path through territory that’s not so familiar to most of us. That is, all by itself, an appealing prospect, especially including the shared-use path which — while hoping fervently to avoid the customary debate over whether shared-use paths please cyclists or any of their many users, in particular — seem to please everybody who uses them, in general.

It will be wonderful to say mission accomplished one day soon — no banners, no flight suits — about the connector road.