MassDOT presents 25 percent complete Beach Road plan to town

MassDot will hold a public hearing on Sept. 14 regarding Beach Road improvements. —Nelson Sigelman

Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg said on Tuesday that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently presented a 25 percent complete design for the Beach Road project, which includes a comprehensive and long-discussed redesign of Beach Road from Five Corners to the seawall past RM Packer Co.

But it’s not quite ready for a public hearing. “We don’t want them to do a public meeting until they address some of the issues that came up with the 25 percent design, and that we’ve discussed with them before,” Ms. Loberg said.

Town board representatives plan to meet with MassDOT representatives next week to go over the details of the plan, ask questions, and request changes.

Town officials want to review “some of the global points, some of the utility placements, and the new integration of the sidewalk on the north side,” Ms. Loberg said. “We don’t want them to come down and do a public meeting until we’ve gotten some of these things nailed down.”

The timeline is still uncertain as the process moves forward.

“I don’t know how they’re going to respond to this meeting, so it’s really hard to tell what the timeline will be,” she said. “If we ask for big changes, there’s going to be delays that will impact the timeline.”

However, any changes or requests will not be new to MassDOT, Ms. Loberg said, as they have been in discussion from the beginning.

“It’s possible that they’re right on their timeline and they just haven’t gotten to the details we’re concerned about yet,” she said. “They’ve got 75 percent more designing to do. They’ll either go back and make changes or tell us, ‘No, that will be in our 50 percent design plan.’”

In a conversation with The Times in December, MassDOT supervising project manager Thomas Currier said “late spring” was a good guess for when the public hearing will be held. He said it depends on when the district office can schedule a utility coordination meeting, a gathering of all the necessary utility companies, local departments of public works and safety department members, and MassDOT representatives to go pole-by-pole along the street determining necessary right-of-way easements and other utility changes.

The town has also requested that the utilities be underground, if possible. That will require more discussion, given that running utilities underground is only funded by MassDOT if it’s the only way to get them out of the way, and not just an improvement. 

All of that must occur before the public hearing.