At a recent meeting of some Island business leaders, discussion turned to one of the Island’s nagging problems and its impact on business — traffic flow and the lack thereof.
When one of the individuals suggested the town of Tisbury should be pushing for more roundabouts, including one at Five Corners and another at the intersection of State Road with Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, another pointed out that those roads are controlled by the state, and the discussion quickly changed to something else.
That’s the problem, isn’t it?
Too often when we feel like we have no control over a problem, we let it go, rather than going to the parties who do have some authority, and letting them know the situation is becoming untenable.
On the same day we witnessed that brief exchange, an Islander opened up a can of worms with a post on the Islanders Talk Facebook group. “Traffic is getting so bad, it’s getting really dangerous. It must be time to admit we need some traffic lights, at least from June to September. I think the two worst are [Five Corners] in Tisbury, and entering State Road from Edgartown–V.H. Road, also in Tisbury. There is no need for continued stress and danger, simply put a light up,” he wrote.
That one post triggered 174 comments at last count. There were very few of them supportive of the suggestion that a traffic light is needed to solve the problems. (Are there two dirtier words in the Island vocabulary than “traffic lights”?)
We’re not sure what traffic lights would do, anyway. Yes, they would bring some order to the intersection, but they’re unlikely to do much to improve the flow.
Other commenters had their own ideas:
“I’d rather limit the amount of cars we allow nonresidents to bring down,” one commenter said.
Another suggested more roundabouts. “I think a rotary at the five-way intersection in V.H. and one at the V intersection in Edgartown. That would do it.”
“More bikes and bike lanes,” opined another commenter. “It’s healthier and better for the environment. The new bike lane makes it so easy and convenient to get between Oak Bluffs and V.H.”
About a decade ago, there was a pretty good idea to build a connector road between Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road and State Road that would bypass and take some of the strain off the area where the two roads now intersect. According to a Times article from 2013, voters at a town meeting rejected the $2.5 million estimated to fund the design and construction of the connector road.
It was the third time the voters said no.
“It seems to me we have one bad intersection we’re trying to alleviate, and are talking about trying to create three new problematic intersections,” one voter said during that town meeting. “Maybe it would make sense to put up a light at the intersection [State and Edgartown–Vineyard Haven roads] we already have.”
The problems and the frustrations with traffic remain, and are exacerbated with a larger year-round population since the start of the pandemic.
Nothing causes agita like traffic and trying to ease it. It’s possible that we’re just putting too many demands on the Island’s infrastructure and it simply can’t handle the increased load, but it seems like it’s at least worth talking about.
The roundabout was going to end life as we knew it on the Vineyard. Now it’s widely regarded as a success.
Parallel parking on Circuit Ave. was going to make it impossible to navigate the center of Oak Bluffs. The jury’s still out, but so far so good.
Who is brave enough to get the conversation started about other high-traffic areas and how to improve the flow?
Or are we simply willing to keep kicking the can down the road between the idling cars?