We need traffic solutions


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?


  1. Ok– I will step in. I am either brave enough or dumb enough to opine about this one.
    First, let me say I was a very vocal proponent of the roundabout at Edg- Barnes road.
    I am all for a roundabout at the fire station in O.B, one at the intersection of the west tis. rd and Barnes. and one directly in front of the entrance to the airport. These are all occasional choke points, and a roundabout would work perfectly.

    Then there are the 3 other serious choke points–
    They are all unsuitable for a roundabout , and all for the same reason.
    Let’s start with the one at the triangle. as that one would have the highest probability of working– It would be fine in the winter, but have a Just above zero chance in the summer.And it’s really the summer problem we are talking about.
    So here’s the problem with that– when you are coming from ob into edgartown, you get through the triangle and you are still stopped. if a roundabout were there, it would come to a complete stop in all directions– there is literally no place for a vehicle to exit the roundabout–this would block the escape of vehicles exiting edgartown and prevent them from turning left onto the EDG,VH road.
    The same principal applies even more strikingly at the intersection of state and EDG rd. If one spoke of a roundabout jams, the whole thing stops. So to make it clear what I am saying, if you would approach a roundabout coming from Edg, you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near it, as ALL vehicles that want to go into town or towards Cronigs would be blocked by the traffic that backs up from town. Again there is no way a vehicle wishing to go towards town can exit the roundabout and therefore it would stop. Vehicle wanting to turn left there and go towards Cronigs would just have to wait. At least now, it gets so congested that there are times when vehicles wishing to turn left can do so as long as idiots don’t just pull up to the car in front of them and block left turning traffic while waiting to get into town.
    Some sort of sign suggesting to the clueless to not block left turning traffic might help.
    The same thing happens at 5 corners.
    I personally think that 5 corners should get rid of the 3 stop signs they have, and put up 5 yield signs– that’s what happens there anyway– Your typical tourist who has never encountered anything like it coming off the ferry is legally obliged to sit there and wait until no traffic is coming in either direction. After a while they catch on, and technically run the stop sign.
    Tisbury police take notice– every person coming from the stop and shop during a typical summer day and turning towards O.B is running the stop sign. All budget problems solved ! (That’s joke by the way)

    The solutions to these choke points are more complicated — I have written enough for now
    But –I’ll be back.

  2. This editorial reminded me of a news story published Dec. 31, 2015, “Study offers keys to unlock Five Corner, Look Street intersection,” by former MV Times reporter Janet Hefler. I’m sure the study is sitting on a shelf somewhere. The news story was followed by an editorial, “A slice at the Gordion Knot,” published on Jan. 6, 2016, endorsing one of the proposed solutions: remove the expanse of brick in front of the post office to create a dedicated left-turn lane off Beach Road onto Water Street. A good idea then and now. I expect the next generation of newspaper people—if there are such people in the future—will find that change moves at about the same pace as summer traffic on the Island.

    • Nelson– I went through 5 corners today, and looked at it with the idea putting a designated left turn lane where the brick is now.
      Great idea that I think would work.
      Also, there used to be a cut through from Lagoon pond road to Beach road by the marina.
      Just looking at satellite photos there are a few easy routes through there.
      Traffic coming from the Museum area or the post office and going to O.B could avoid 5 corners.
      Those 2 changes would help quite a bit, as did making Union st one way going out from the ferry.

      • A cut-thru from Lagoon Pond Rd (fka Howard Avenue) to Beach Rd was part of the solution proposed by the Tisbury Traffic Committee more than 40 years ago. It required taking property by eminent domain and was rejected by the selectmen at the time.

  3. It doesn’t help matters when traffic is merging on to State Road from Look Street-dangerous, at any time of the year. Im not a traffic engineer, but that seems like a logical place to begin.

    Of course, there always a reason why this hasn’t taken place. Id like to know what it is.

    • I can think of a few reason, just off the top of my head. Cognitive dissonance is a big one. Bring in more and more people, have bigger and bigger festivals, create a housing bank so more and more in the construction trades can move here with their trucks.

      And then there are things like Alan Dershowitz antics taking center stage in the brain cells of islanders.

      In the same weeks when whining, self-absorbed infants are carrying on about dictators not allowing them to ruin pristine sand dunes and squish wild life with their tire tracks so they can have their recreational fun, do we really wonder why someone like former MVC director, Mark London, may his memory be a blessing, was excoriated for having the background, knowledge, and intelligence to help resolve traffic issues? I’ve never seen bigger hissy fits, more breath holding and foot stamping tantrums for the right to recreation in my life, except maybe if you ask islanders to put a mask on during covid surges. And you want these people to consider traffic lights?

      Does anyone really wonder why nothing is getting done to help solve the traffic issue? How many Housing Bank proponents have their head in the sand over traffic but are adamant about no traffic lights? Duh.

      I am not a traffic engineer so I have no idea how to keep things moving in a tight space with too many cars and too many people and where no more can fit. We’re bringing in even more people because there’s still a buck from an off islander that can fit in some islanders’ pockets somewhere. We even have someone contributing to this ruination asking the SSA to divert boats to accommodate his grandiosity. DUH!

      I personally deal with the problem of too much traffic in too small a space by resorting to online shopping for many necessities and most gifts, going to Stop and Shop at 7am, and avoiding down island as much as possible all summer. “Shop local” and “support the local arts” are actually a nightmare I do not wish to have, although I was formerly most supportive.

      The Amy Schumer event at the Chilmark Community Center was sold out one minute after the tickets went on sale online. I love her, but you couldn’t pay me to go to a zoo these days. DUH!!!

      • “In the same weeks when whining, self-absorbed infants are carrying on about dictators not allowing them to ruin pristine sand dunes and squish wild life with their tire tracks so they can have their recreational fun…” I guess I fall in this camp. But you do realize the island economy is reliant on tourism and recreation for its survival. Although I don’t understand some progressives doltishness, I truly admire their total commitment to it.

        • Doltishness is when a person publicly carries on about how people shouldn’t be labeled… and then mislabels them.

          “Carl Kelly June 19, 2022 At 4:38 pm
          Is there anything worse than being called a conservative? Perhaps a liberal? No, Progressive? Oh wait maybe right wing gun loving nut?
          Or perhaps we can do away with labels and listen to people for just their ideas.”

          • I think you proved my point. You don’t know the meaning of it. And when you quote someone keep it in context. I at least has the decency to look up hornswoggle after you told me too. And like I said there are people who just don’t get it and never will. I hope you are not in that camp.

  4. Where’s the data to support any traffic solutions? I’ve only been here for 30 years and I don’t find it much worse than when I moved here. The only exception is the increased backups at the triangle, OB fire station, State Rd/Edgartown Rd intersection and WT and Barnes intersection which are the result of the roundabout. The roundabout merely transferred traffic to other locations. We have to deal with it for a couple months a year. In the real world it’s year round. Let’s just suck it up and live with it.

    • John- It truly amazes me how you can deny anything that is rational.
      Has it ever occurred to you that many people who go through the roundabout do not go all the way to those intersections you mention ?
      If you haven’t noticed more traffic on the vineyard in the last 30 years, I don’t know what to tell ya.
      Get whatever ideological blinders you have on off and take a look around.

      • Show me the numbers. The MVC has traffic metering all across the island. Show me the stats from those counters. Traffic has always been a problem and somehow we manage to survive.

        • Surely, let the evidence direct our decision making. Some of these intersections are awkward and tend to jams, but they are not really dangerous to life and limb, because the speeds are so low. The blinker was prone to high-speed accidents, and the rotary has been a success, including by reducing emissions.

          • The blinker according to MVC documents averaged 3.4 accidents a year. Not sure what the roundabout has been producing but I’ve seen several. Emissions have just moved on to other areas. We also have over thirty signs surrounding the roundabout that didn’t exist before. Not to mention the landscaping plan that OB never implemented. I’ve witnessed confused drivers driving right over the middle of it. Not exactly safe.

  5. Let me think out of the box—-
    How about a gondola ride from the park and ride by the Tisbury dump, to Veterans field ?
    Or it could go over all industrial land and pick up state rd at the cook st and state rd intersection and end at Boch Park or the steamship parking lot by the Black Dog corner of it.
    I think you’ll see it’s a fine idea if you stop at the dispensary … 🙂

    How about improving Cook st ?
    Connecting Holmes Rd. to Carrolls way is a no brainer..

  6. it took me a while but I’ve decided not to read the mv times anymore especially the comments. I used to love getting the paper in my po box and I never once for decades read the comments. but obviously don and others have no idea what sharing the time is. this isn’t the peoples paper it dons and his cronies. no disrespect but its getting sickening.

    • Sorry to hear that Dean. Seems like a weird day to say this given that we have nearly two or three dozen new people commenting on our stories in the last two days. I hope you reconsider.

    • Dean–Not sure what you mean by “sharing the time”. On today’s most commented upon stories, (Dersh and traffic problems ), of the 91 comments as of this writing I contributed 8. There is no limit to the number of comments one can post on this forum . I just want to clarify that, as you may think there are a limited number of comments available on any given story. If you wish to “cancel” yourself because you don’t like to read the opinions of people who you disagree with, or you think they comment too often, you are free to do so. I for one will read comments that you chose to post and may reply to some of them , if I chose to. I will do it in a manner that is consistent with the guidelines that the moderator has established. As I look back at recent articles, I only see one comment from you that I responded to. (tobin pleads to sufficient facts) . Your comment seemed innocuous enough, and I politely explained why I felt my desire to comment frequently. I did not criticize you, nor do I think I was rude in any way– If you think I was , I apologize..
      We live in a society that values the free exchange of ideas and political views. I for one know that millions of Americans across all political, social and economic stratum (for lack of a better word) recognize free speech as a constitutional bedrock to preserving our democracy.
      I agree with George on this one– I hope you reconsider.


      • Don… nicely said. I have found that we come across so very different then intended just because of one word we use in our written responses. We can’t express our tone or share our body language. I have offended many by mistake and tried to offend many others but fell flat.

        To Dean, I can tell you I appreciate all comments and we are only as strong as we are because we get to bounce stuff off of each other. Your opinions are cherished here. Please continue to contribute.

    • I see that Dean makes about as many comments as Don.
      Don is not the decider of which comments get published, George is.
      If you want all of your comments published publish a newspaper.

    • This is not the People’s Newspaper, it is privately owned.
      They even publish Dean’s comments.

  7. Nelson’s reminder to us about the solution that the Gordian Knot article proposed about creating a dedicated left-turn lane off Beach Road onto Water Street at the 5 Corners makes WAY too much damn sense, so that can’t be done, DUH!
    What CAN be done easily and extremely inexpensively on a TRIAL BASIS at the 5 Corners is Don’s suggestion of getting rid of the 3 stop signs they have, and putting up 5 yield signs. All it would take to give it a try is installing 2 yield signs and slapping 3 “Yield” decals over the existing “Stop” signs. Let’s call it a “Courtesy-a-bout,” or the “Keller Courtesy-a-bout.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  8. There are just too many cars on MV in July/August, simple as that. Roundabouts and other ideas are good but nibbling around the edges and won’t solve the problem of just too many vehicles.

    • Will you lead the way by leaving your car parked for July and August?

      You did the easy part, you identified the problem.
      Now do the hard part, indentity the solution.
      Do you have one that will not impact your mobility?

  9. Not to belabor the subject, but this is kind of cool:

    I went to Google Earth, zoomed in to the rotary to a 72m (meter) zoom level, which appears along the bottom of the screen. Then I measured the diameter of the rotary, which is 5.5 inches. Then I went to the 5 Corners, zoomed in to the 72 m zoom level. Then I took a ruler and held up 5.5 inches to the satellite image of 5 Corners. I could see how much of 5 Corners would have to go in order to accommodate a rotary of that size. It’s way too big! The bicycle rental store would have to go and part of the gift store next to it also, and that is just for starters.

    For us non-engineers It’s kind of a cool way to determine if some large thing would fit in another location.

    This strongly suggests that a rotary at the 5 Corners smaller than the one at the blinking light would not be practical especially for tractor trailer trucks trying to maneuver through it.

    What is does suggest is that the Keller Courtesy-about or the Keller Yield-about might very well prove worthy of a good old fashion college try!

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