During the summer season approximately 14,000 cars a day travel Beach Road, the main thoroughfare connecting Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs, along with numerous cyclists and pedestrians. State ownership of the road dates back to the 1950s, and it hosts a variety of businesses, including Tisbury Marketplace, two gas stations and a working wharf. And yet, in the last half century, Beach Road has undergone no major renovations, except for the drawbridge project over Lagoon Pond.

That may soon change, at least for a portion of the road, where plans are being reviewed to make the area more user friendly and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 5:45 p.m. at the Tisbury town hall, town officials will review the most recent design from MassDOT, prior to taking a final position on Sept. 29.

In August 2013, MassDOT hired Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. to design improvements for pedestrians and cyclists along the road. MassDOT met with town representatives and the area was inspected in a site walk. Preliminary concept plans were then created and presented to the public. Since then, negotiations about the road have been ongoing.

Parts of the plan include creating a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists beginning after Tisbury Marketplace and continuing to Wind’s Up, building a sidewalk running along the harbor from Five Corners to just past Vineyard Scripts, and widening the sidewalks and making travel lanes for cars narrower to benefit non-car travel.

An initial design concept called for the sidewalk on the north side of the road to continue past Tisbury Wharf, so that there could be a sidewalk on one side of the road and a path for bicyclists on the south side of the road. The road around Tisbury Wharf is much narrower, though, and the plan required an additional 3.5 feet of land from the Tisbury Wharf property, owned by Ralph Packer.

Mr. Packer declined to give the land and so the project had to be restructured to focus on a shared-use path on the south side of the road.

Planning board member Ben Robinson said he never expected the process to go quickly. He added that discussions were mired in debate over the original intent of the project. A study completed in 2009 by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission looked at the feasibility of an Islandwide network of shared-use paths. It identified 2,500 feet of Beach Road in Vineyard Haven as a missing link. This project began in response to that study.

Selectmen Tristan Israel and Larry Gomez have voiced their concerns about the project, citing aesthetics and safety issues.

Mr. Robinson said the three potential negative aspects of a shared-use path are multi-use issues, two way traffic for cyclists and pedestrians and frequent curb cuts — sections of sidewalk that dip down to allow cars to enter and exit parking lots and businesses. Frequent and poorly maintained curb cuts make paths bumpy and uneven, thus difficult to navigate by bicycle.

Curb cut issues can be mitigated, Mr. Robinson said, through consolidating and decreasing the size of the cuts as the path is built. Two-way pedestrian and bicycle traffic can also be dealt with by painting a dashed line down the middle of the path, indicating lanes, he said. And as for multi-use, Mr. Robinson feels that mixing bicycles with pedestrians is not as bad as leaving the road as the only option for cyclists.

“The primary use [of a path] will be bikes,” he added. “Not many people are walking to Oak Bluffs.”

Utility poles and transformers interrupting the narrow sidewalks can also make Beach Road difficult to navigate. As far back as 2012, discussions of putting the utilities underground along the street piqued the interest of the town and private business owners. Mr. Packer wrote a letter to the director of public works at the time agreeing to easements for the purpose. In talks surrounding the state-funded improvements to Beach Road, the issue of utilities has surfaced again.

“Placing utilities underground would be such a benefit visually and would make pedestrian access better,” said town administrator, John (Jay) Grande.

Mr. Grande said he has heard prices ranging from $1.5 million to $4 million to put the utilities underground, however it would not be funded through this project. The alternative would be for the utility poles to be removed from the sidewalks and placed on easements on private property.

The town also hopes to reduce the speed limit on the road. “If we’re trying to promote and support bicycle and pedestrian traffic, you don’t design a 40 mph roadway,” said Mr. Grande. The narrower travel lanes (10.5 feet compared to 12 feet) in the new designs would discourage speeding.

Though the current road is less than pristine, Mr. Robinson suspects the maintenance will improve as the road improves.

“If something is new, there is a better likelihood that it is maintained because the maintenance is more clear,” Mr. Robinson said. “It’s when things degrade to a point where it’s like, what are we maintaining?”