Beach Road work poised to start

Select board inquires about night work; permit questions remain.

Survey stakes along Beach Road are a precursor to shared-use path construction this fall. — Rich Saltzberg

On Wednesday the Tisbury select board met with Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) official Tom Currier, other MassDOT representatives, and representatives from Lawrence-Lynch Corp. of Falmouth to discuss the impending construction of the Beach Road shared-use path (SUP) project. 

Select board members were eager to get timetable information and establish regular routes of communication with MassDOT representatives and Lawrence Lynch Corp., the contractor for the project. 

MassDOT civil engineer Mike Zuzevich told the board this autumn will see staging and drainage work, among other things. 

“Basically this fall will be mobilizing,” he said, “installing construction signs, erosion controls, starting some of the utility locations — the overhead locations — also drainage installation and some water main work we need to do for relocation to install the drainage. Following winter shutdown, we come back in the spring and continue with drainage and water main work, and continue with utility relocation. Toward the end of the spring we might be able to begin some roadway items.”

The $5 million project is years in the making. Abutters have raised objections about the impact of the project on businesses and property owners, while the town’s select board has vacillated on support of the project, which aims to connect Vineyard Haven with Oak Bluffs for safer bicycle passage. The project has the support of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Currier said inevitably there would be “some impact to the abutters,” but access to driveways will be maintained. 

Zuzevich said he’s already met with DPW director Kirk Metell as part of what will be a Tuesday meeting for project updates, held every two weeks. Building commissioner Ross Seavey expressed interest in joining those meetings.

Lawrence Lynch project manager Peter Kelly said there’s still some paperwork remaining, but roadwork is still expected to begin shortly: “We’ve got a few permits to work on and finalize. Once we get those permits taken care of, we’ll come out and we’ll start to, if it is next week, maybe toward the end of the week hopefully, or the beginning of the week after that, we’ll come out …” 

MassDOT and the town announced the start of the project with great fanfare, to begin Sept. 8. Nothing has happened on the project since the announcement, except for the placement of some survey stakes. 

Baker, Braverman and Barbadoro attorney Kim Kroha, who represents companies owned by Ralph Packer, asked about outstanding permits. On Sept 1, Baker, Braverman and Barbadoro sent a cease and desist letter to the EPA, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and the town of Tisbury over alleged permitting issues with the project. 

“As far as I’m aware,” Kroha said Wednesday, “a full and sufficient NOI [notice of intent] hasn’t even been submitted for that project. There’s been a couple preliminary NOIs that have been rejected. But I wanted to see how that would affect the schedule going forward.”

Zuzevich said that relative to the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit, “we did receive the stormwater pollution prevention plan. It’s been reviewed, and it has been approved. So the electronic notice of intent should be refiled, and as soon as those are approved, we’ll start moving forward. But that’s one of the reasons we haven’t moved forward yet.”

He said he couldn’t speak to other environmental permitting, and deferred to Currier. “The other permits,” Currier said, “we went before [the conservation commission]. They approved the project. We had close communication with DEP through the whole process, specifically involving the beach nourishment portion. But I’m not sure what else we can tell you. I mean, all the boxes have been checked. We’re in the construction phase now.”

Select board chair Jim Rogers said it might be worthwhile to see what abutters thought of night work. “If it would help move the project along, I don’t think people would object to night work,” he said. 

Select board member Jeff Kristal said he believed the idea of night work had come up before, but was deemed cost-prohibitive. Nevertheless, he said, he saw potential benefits for considering nightwork, and said offices at 107 Beach Road, for example, would benefit from work done at night. Kristal expressed concern about water shutoffs and the effect they would have on eateries and markets along the road. 

“We’d never mess with the water supply without plenty of advance notification,” Kelly said. 

Kristal stressed that intimate communication about road conditions must be maintained with the Dukes County Communication Center, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs first responders, and the hospital. 

“That’s the most important thing that we need to have, is communication,” select board member Larry Gomez said. 

Former select board member Melinda Loberg vouched for the responsiveness of Currier and Zuzevich, saying she’d worked closely and successfully with them on the Lagoon Pond Bridge.