The long-debated, state-funded $6 million Vineyard Haven Beach Road improvement project is starting to seem like a mini version of the infamous Big Dig in Boston, as it drags on for years with no clear blueprint for the future.

In the works for nearly a decade, the project began as a bike path connector spurred by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. When state funding eventually became available, the project got started on what would prove to be its long, tortuous road. Tisbury town leaders have never been clear in their support, adding to an atmosphere of confusion and mistrust about the whole project.

Last week the news surfaced that MassDOT construction crews, who have been doing preliminary work since late fall and were set to break ground next month, had hit engineering snags. Now there could be more delays, as state project managers work to reconcile discrepancies between town records and the actual location of underground infrastructure, including sewer and water lines.

The project itself is fully in the hands of state highway officials. But the Tisbury selectmen could do more than just grouse.

Right now the potholed, shoulder-less ribbon of road running from Five Corners to Wind’s Up is a mess, undermined by erosion from winter storms, all the while functioning as a key artery to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital from up-Island and a main thoroughfare for travelers coming off Steamship Authority ferries.

Property owners along the half-mile stretch of roadway are unhappy and feeling left out of the loop. As town leaders, the selectmen are in the best position to work with the state to help find a way to complete what was started and reassure the public that construction will eventually end.

The continuing delays and missteps on this relatively small project bode poorly for the success of multiple major projects now in the planning stages all along Beach Road.

The Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard has plans to rebuild its storage facilities and add a 48-slip marina on the lagoon side of the road. Ralph Packer wants to site a new marine terminal to service offshore wind projects on his waterfront property. Real estate investors have a project to develop the area around the former Hinckley lumber yard. And Gannon and Benjamin have taken steps to realize a lifelong dream of making their boatbuilding operation the centerpiece of a revived working harborfront.

Any one of these projects raises issues about the long-term stability of a roadway that is already challenged by frequent flooding and rising seas. Taken together, these projects make it imperative that town leaders get serious about the future of Beach Road.

It would be convenient to lay the problems that have bedeviled the bike-path connector project at the feet of state engineers. But figuring out how and perhaps whether Beach Road can support the kind of redevelopment that is now contemplated for the Vineyard Haven harbor will take a new level of effort and cooperation.