Upcoming changes to a major intersection are on the right track, West Tisbury town officials said at a public hearing Wednesday.
The hearing, presented by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, marked a first step toward improving safety at the intersection of Old County and State Roads. According to a traffic study by the DOT, 12 accidents occurred at the location between April 2006 and May 2010 — a slightly higher accident rate than similar locations in District 5, the Vineyard’s DOT designation. Of those accidents, 58 per cent were caused by left-hand turns, said Rich Madsen, District 5 projects manager.
Initial plans presented by the DOT call for putting the Old County Road entrance at a near-90-degree angle to State Road, forcing cars to make a full stop before turning. The proposal also includes increasing green space and sight lines, and adding new signage.
“So you’re taking a place that people see as a mass of pavement [and] make them see that it’s curving, redefine the road,” town resident Nancy Dola said during public comment. “They have to think about it and slow down.”
Mr. Madsen concurred, and said the new plan will reduce conflict points at the intersection. The project will cost a total of $204,127. Design is fully funded by the state, with construction funds split 80-20 between federal and state funding. According to the proposal, a bid process for construction will take place next summer, with work beginning in late 2014 or early 2015.
West Tisbury selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd offered a small change to the DOT’s plans, suggesting that the road be made slightly more accessible to large vehicles, such as dump trucks and excavators, giving them a better turning radius.
“That’s doable,” said assistant project developer Bill Travers. The shoulder of the new road will be crushed stone, he said, which is “a little more forgiving” if a large vehicle needs to make a turn.
During a regular selectmen’s meeting that followed the presentation, the board voted unanimously against signing a letter of non-oppostion to a potential marijuana dispensary in town. The request came from resident Geoffrey Rose, one of three West Tisbury residents applying for a dispensary permit. It was the second request for a letter the board had received. The letter would be included in the full application to the state, but selectmen said they were uncomfortable with the commonwealth’s word choice.
“My position hasn’t really changed; I don’t really like the word non-oppositon,” said Mr. Manter. “Only the state could come up with that.”
Selectmen Richard Knabel and Cynthia Mitchell agreed. “If this were to happen we’d do it in an orderly permitting fashion,” said Mrs. Mitchell. “I thought about it over the week; my level of comfort extends to encouraging you to include a copy of the minutes of the town meeting, where the record basically speaks for itself.”
At last week’s special town meeting, West Tisbury approved a dispensary zoning bylaw 132 to 2.
The board also heard from ACE MV representatives and offered advice on next steps to take in securing long-term funding for the adult education programs, such as collaborating with other Island nonprofits.
Selectmen gave full support to an Edgartown initiative to update and rebuild the shellfish hatchery on Chappaquiddick. Ryan Smith of the Edgartown Shellfish Committee said that the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group was working with Edgartown as they applied for a Community Innovation Challenge grant sponsored by the state.
“There would be potential benefit to West Tisbury, in that the hatchery would create oysters for West Tisbury,” said town administrator Jen Rand.