State Road sidewalk project in Vineyard Haven begins April 2

James Churchill of J.C. Engineering of Wareham sets his sites on the project area on State Road Monday. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Motorists should expect traffic delays on State Road from Camp Street to Pine Tree Road in Vineyard Haven with the start-up of a sidewalk reconstruction project on Monday, April 2. Work will take place between 7:30 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday.

The project by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) involves the reconstruction of a half-mile of existing sidewalk and the addition of granite curbing. MassDOT expects to complete the project before Memorial Day weekend, weather permitting.

In preparation, a survey crew is at work and new signs about the impending roadwork put up this week on State Road in the project area. Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan said he expects traffic will slow down along that stretch during the construction and may experience delays from a lane closure while machinery is in use. A civilian flagman will direct traffic.

Chief Hanavan recommends that motorists take alternate routes in and out of Vineyard Haven to avoid the construction area, if possible. For example, if traveling to Vineyard Haven from up-Island, he suggests taking West Spring Street, next to the Tashmoo overlook, to Spring Street to bypass the project area to downtown Vineyard Haven and Five Corners.

Tisbury department of public works director Fred LaPiana said there would be pedestrian detours to help them get around the sidewalk construction during the day. “At the end of each day everything will be packed down and safe to walk on,” he said.

MassDOT designed the project and will administrate its construction, which will cost about $450,000, according to Mr. LaPiana. Lawrence Lynch was awarded the construction contract.

“It is being done in direct response to the fatality that occurred on that stretch a few years ago,” Mr. LaPiana said.

On July 6, 2010, a bicyclist riding up the sidewalk beside State Road was killed when she lost control of her bicycle near Camp Street and fell under the wheels of a tractor-trailer truck in traffic moving up the hill. Ten days after her death the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s joint transportation committee voted to shift priorities for Island highway safety projects funded by state Transportation Improvement Program funds.

Since planning for the roundabout was behind schedule due to delays in the design phase, Oak Bluffs volunteered to push the roundabout project back for a year, to give Tisbury priority for state funds toward the sidewalk project.

Although construction was tentatively planned to start last fall, Mr. LaPiana said it was delayed by some property acquisitions and takings MassDOT found necessary after a survey of the project area.