Every Island town is in line to receive funding through a “An Act Financing Improvements to Municipal Roads and Bridges,” which was approved June 6, according to a press release from state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth.
Included among the projects funded is $4.7 million for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to fund a shared-use path (SUP) on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. The project has been controversial because some property owners on Beach Road say the need to take land by eminent domain would hurt their businesses and residences.
In November, Tisbury selectmen reversed their support for the SUP in favor of a symmetrical design, but MassDOT has said they’re too far along in the process to make a substantial change, selectmen chair Melinda Loberg said.
In an email, Fernandes wrote that he is aware of the back and forth between the town and the state. “Yes, yes, they’ve been working on it for many years now, and my understanding is that it has gone through several iterations,” he wrote.
Loberg said the board did vote unanimously at a recent meeting to allow an easement on town property that would avoid a larger taking from the Packer property.
“I am [happy],” said Loberg, who has been a proponent of the SUP. “I don’t speak for the rest of the town. Overall, it’s going to be a good thing for the town. It’s fixing a road that’s in deplorable shape. We have abutters along the road who are starting to stir and improve their properties. It’s a much-needed project … We have a compromise solution.”
The approved funding also includes $2.5 million to extend a SUP from Lagoon Pond Drawbridge on Beach Road Northerly onto Eastville Road, terminating at County Road and connecting to another shared-use path.
“Beach Road is a staple in the Vineyard community for residents and visitors alike,” said Fernandes in the release. “These scheduled upgrades go a long way in improving the safety and accessibility of this road by shoring up designated bike and pedestrian ways as well as shared-use pathways.”
The bill also included so-called Chapter 90 funds for each of the Island towns:
Oak Bluffs: $194,802
West Tisbury: $81,581