Traffic counter installation begins

Data will be available to the public to watch traffic trends.

The site locations for the permanent traffic counters. — Martha's Vineyard Commission

Six permanent traffic counters will be installed at locations in West Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown in the coming weeks to collect traffic data for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC).

Construction crews from Weymouth-based Bell Traffic began installing the counters on Monday, Sept. 30, and will continue to work over the next several weeks. Data will be collected wirelessly and then analyzed by MVC staff, a press release states.

The six sites were decided by a vote of the Island’s joint transportation committee. The project is funded through state and federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funding. The MVC is installing the permanent counters, which cost approximately $18,000 each, to get better insights into the year-to-year demands placed on Island roadway infrastructure, much of which is designed for far smaller volumes than exist in the summertime peak season. The information can also potentially be used to make stronger cases for state and federal funding for infrastructure projects. It will also be available to Island towns and the public.

“We need to do this. We must have increased real-time counting capability. We were fortunate the funding opportunity came to obtain detailed traffic information using automated technology. Added to that, we designed a system where Island town representatives and the public can download counts directly, for their own analysis,” Adam Turner, MVC executive director, said in the release.

All counters will be set back from the road and painted forest green, except for the counter near Big Bridge, which will have a solar panel atop it. The MVC and its consultant, TrafInfo, chose the counters based on their durability and cost-effectiveness, ensuring accurate counts even in areas where traffic may come to a full stop.

The counters are also able to break down traffic counts by speed groups and vehicle length classes, which will help inform pavement management plans and fiscal planning for town highway departments and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 

“These are built to last. We want to be able to see the trends from one year to the next,” Dan Doyle, special projects manager at the MVC, said. “We’re excited to get that data.”