Trees are ready to come down, property markers have been staked and utilities are being prepared for relocation at the blinker intersection in Oak Bluffs, with all signs pointing to one direction: the roundabout project is set to begin.
Massachusetts department of transportation spokesman Michael Verseckes said this week selective trees in the area will soon be cleared in order to relocate underground wiring and make way for impending construction. If all goes according to plan, Mr. Verseckes said, the state-funded project could be completed as early as May.
“If we can get all of the utilities and trees removed, and the weather cooperates, we could have the majority of it done [by then],” he said.
The state has until the spring of 2014 to complete the project, and is prohibited from doing work between Memorial Day and September.
“We do have this short window until the end of May to get as much as we can done,” said Mr. Verseckes. “If things spill over into the fall, then they spill over into the fall . . . but the construction of a roundabout is not something you can leave half done.”
Should the state be unable to complete the roundabout by the end of May, a traffic pattern similar to what is in place now will remain over the summer, he said. The contractor for the project is Lawrence Lynch Corp. The project is estimated to cost $1.2 million.
The preparations for tree removal mark the first activity in the decade-long-planned and highly contentious traffic project, intended to curb traffic accidents and ease congestion at the busy intersection.
Plans for the roundabout began in 2001 and were approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in 2011. The towns of Edgartown and West Tisbury appealed the decision in court in late 2011, but later dropped the lawsuit. Last April, voters in five of the six Island towns overwhelmingly voted against the project in a nonbinding referendum ballot question. The question was not put before Oak Bluffs voters.
“It will be a major shift from what’s there now,” Mr. Verseckes said of the roundabout.