Tisbury has made progress in addressing sinkholes and a failing culvert where Smith Brook passes beneath Lambert’s Cove Road. However, the work is not finished, and Tisbury selectmen have decided to keep the roadway blockaded until it is done.
Tisbury facilities manager and DPW director Kirk Metell told the board Tuesday night the culvert has been replaced, and water flow restored. Work on a new headwall is the next task to be done at the job site, he said, followed by a guardrail installation. Metell said he expected the headwall work to be done between Feb. 4 and 7, and he anticipated the guardrail would be put in seven days later. He asked the board if they were game to open the road once the headwall is done, but before the guardrail is installed. He noted the drop down to the brook is 10 feet, but temporary barriers could be set in place until the guardrail goes in.
“I would still not recommend having large trucks — Cottle’s trucks, those types of trucks — going through there, just because the additional weight … may just be a concern …,” he said. He advised against trucks because the road will be narrow while work is going on.
Melinda Loberg, board chair, asked Police Chief Mark Saloio what he thought about the safety of opening the road before all work was done.
“I would defer on that to the board, first and foremost,” Saloio said, “but as far as emergency vehicle access, there will be the ability for emergency vehicles, particularly police cruisers, to access that area.”
He went on to say, “As far as opening the road up to the public, I would defer to the facilities director and the contractor.”
Selectman Jeff Kristal came out against the idea. “I’m not for opening it up and having it tighter, and having to worry about a school bus coming down and catching an edge and going down 10 feet,” he said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
“Out of an abundance of caution I would agree with you on that,” Metell said .
Loberg asked Fire Chief John Schilling what his opinion was about opening the road. “According to what Mr. Metell told us, we do have emergency access if we want it at this point in time,” Schilling said.
He pointed out Tisbury has forged a special mutual aid agreement with the West Tisbury Fire Department and Tri-Town Ambulance. Schilling later told The Times that agreement empowers West Tisbury firefighters and Tri-Town Ambulance personnel to make all initial responses to the portion of Tisbury along Lambert’s Cove Road on the far side of the blockaded job site.
“I’m in favor of leaving that in place until the road work is completed and is safe,” Schilling told Loberg.
When the final work and the final inspection of the site will take place is unclear. Paving won’t occur until April, because asphalt won’t be available until then.
Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF) chairman Eric Peters told the board the town is making good progress at the job site. VOLF controls land in and around the Smith Brook culvert.
“Keep the road closed and get the job done,” he said.