The Massachusetts Department of Transportation held a hearing Tuesday evening for $2.5 million shared-use path (SUP) designs commissioned by Oak Bluffs. The designs mark the first phase of three linked paths Oak Bluffs plans.
The paths are geared to create safe bicycle lanes that extend from the Lagoon Pond Bridge, through downtown Oak Bluffs, and to the existing bike path that starts on Sea View Avenue and travels across Beach Road toward Edgartown. The paths will also link up with a similar shared-use path project underway on the other side of the bridge in Vineyard Haven. The first phase of the path project begins at the bridge and extends to the intersection of County Road and Eastville Avenue. Oak Bluffs has funded $85,000 in studies and commissioned Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI), to execute the initial design. The commonwealth will foot the construction bill, and any tweaks to the design going forward. Federal money will help. Uncle Sam will take 80 percent of the burden, the commonwealth 20 percent. Construction is slated to begin in December 2020.
John Osorio, GPI Wilmington office director of highway engineering, told those gathered at the Oak Bluffs library his company has been working with Oak Bluffs since 2014 to craft the project. The total length of the first phase of the path is 0.7 miles, he said. Osorio said the lack of a bicycle path in the phase one area and the lack of connectivity to other parts of Oak Bluffs were impetuses for the project.
MassDOT civil engineer Tom Currier told the audience Osorio and his team had good past project results on-Island. He said they designed the roundabout on Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. The audience applauded.
“I just wanted to say I support this project 100 percent,” former Oak Bluffs selectman Walter Vail said.
“I welcome this. I think it’s wonderful,” Oak Bluffs resident David Wilson said.
Dukes County associate commissioner for disabilities Dick Cohen, who described himself as a walker, runner, and cyclist, said he was curious about conceptual designs for the next phase, where the path extends “into the heart of Oak Bluffs.”
Oak Bluffs selectman Greg Coogan said that phase hasn’t been hashed out yet.
Maura McGoarty asked that the path width remain consistent.
Oak Bluffs selectman Jason Balboni asked if a particular section of the design was raised to deter parking.
Currier said yes, there’s a 6-inch elevation.
Martha’s Vineyard Commission executive director Adam Turner said practically and aesthetically, barriers along certain sections of the pathway would be better as fences than berms or other natural barriers.
The written record was left open at the close of the hearing. “Written statements and other exhibits in place of, or in addition to, oral statements made at the Public Hearing regarding the proposed undertaking are to be submitted to Patricia A. Leavenworth, P.E., Chief Engineer, MassDOT, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, Attention: Roadway Project Management, Project File No.608142,” according to a MassDOT handout. “Mailed statements and exhibits intended for inclusion in the public hearing/meeting transcript must be postmarked no later than ten (10) business days after this Public Hearing. Project inquiries may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.”