Tisbury selectmen consider more stop signs at hearings next week

The intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Main Street. — File photo by Nelson Sigelman

The Tisbury selectmen will hold two public hearings about new stop signs at a meeting on Tuesday, November 13. The hearings were originally set for October 30 and were postponed when the selectmen rescheduled the meeting in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.

The selectmen are holding the public hearings in response to requests made by Department of Public Works director Fred LaPiana at a meeting on October 16. Mr. LaPiana said a three-way stop and crosswalk at the Franklin Street and Woodlawn Avenue intersection is needed to slow traffic and increase pedestrian safety. He also recommended the creation of a three-way stop at the Causeway Road and Skiff Avenue intersection to protect pedestrians and bicyclists who cross there, where there is a curve in the road that restricts sight lines.

The hearing on the Skiff Avenue and Causeway Road intersection is scheduled at 5:45 pm, and the hearing on the Franklin Street and Woodlawn Avenue intersection at 6 pm.

The latest round of stop sign hearings falls just a few weeks after the installation of three new stop signs at the intersection of Main Street and Greenwood Avenue and two at the intersection of Main Street and Woodlawn Avenue. Tisbury selectmen approved the signs following an October 2 public hearing, which wa held in response to requests from several residents and Vineyard Haven Public Library trustees.

Stop sign proponents expressed concerns about speeding traffic through the intersection and the safety of pedestrians, including children from Grace Church Preschool and seniors who live in Havenside Apartments, as they walk to the library. There also is a bus stop located opposite the intersection.

The selectmen and Mr. LaPiana said public sentiment and safety concerns, not traffic data, underpinned the decision to install the stop signs. However, their justification for the stop signs, to slow traffic and increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety, appears to fall outside Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines governing traffic control.

The Mass DOT’s “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control devices and the standard municipal traffic code,” section 10A-4, states,”The purpose of the Stop Sign is to designate right-of-way to vehicles making conflicting movements. It is not intended, nor shall it be used for the control of speed, traffic calming or to forestall pedestrian, rear-end or turning movement accidents.”

In a previous interview with The Times, Mr. LaPiana said the reference in the DOT guidelines about not using stop signs to control speed or to forestall pedestrians is one small part of the document. He said the stop sign installations on Main Street at Greenwood Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue follow the general guidelines in regard to intersections where crosswalks are necessary.