Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Recent newspaper articles and letters applauding the success of the roundabout are both premature and shortsighted.
The roundabout project had nothing to do with moving traffic more quickly through the intersection. Originally it was an effort to create a safer intersection than the one that existed when it was a two-way stop. The four-way stop, considered a temporary measure initially, functioned very well in curtailing traffic mishaps and should have been left in place. During the Martha’s Vineyard Commission hearings on the roundabout, three Oak Bluffs selectmen and the police chief each testified that the reason they supported the project was solely based upon safety.
I suggest it will take several years of collecting data on crashes at the site before we can deem it a success. I certainly don’t feel safer driving through it. Roundabouts are notoriously dangerous. In the last year Glasgow has removed six of seven roundabouts built in 2010 due to the increased number of accidents. No one who opposed the roundabout doubted it would move traffic more quickly through that intersection. It has worked exactly as predicted. This summer the Island experienced unprecedented traffic backups on either end of Edgartown Road well as the intersection of Barnes Road and West Tisbury Road. As a regional planning body, the MVC failed in approving this project without anticipating the effects it would have on other intersections. The other main points of opposition — that it would further the suburbanization of the Island, that it was unnecessary for a problem that only exists two months a year, and that it was a waste of taxpayer money — are all still quite valid.
Brian Smith, West Tisbury