The problem-plagued Beach Road reconstruction project in Vineyard Haven was thrown into further turmoil this week after Tisbury town leaders learned that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has declined to pay for relocating town water and sewer lines beneath the road.

As a result the shared-use path, which has been an on-and-off point of contention, will be dropped in favor of sidewalks and bike lanes.

Selectmen unanimously agreed to the changes at a meeting Tuesday after hearing a report from town administrator Jay Grande.

“I’ve waited 12 years for this,” said board member Larry Gomez during the discussion, which came near the end of a four-hour public meeting on Zoom.

Board chairman James Rogers at first suggested a two-week waiting period to gather public opinion, but after finding no support from Mr. Gomez and board member Jeff Kristal, he joined them in endorsing the new design.

The long-planned $6 million state-funded project had aimed to rebuild a half-mile stretch of road between Five Corners and Wind’s up by widening shoulders and adding a shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path that connects to the Lagoon Pond Drawbridge, among other things.

One of the Island’s most heavily traveled arteries, the ribbon of road is considered at risk from rising sea levels.

But the public works project has struggled mightily to gain forward momentum, plagued by engineering problems, grumbling from unhappy business owners along the roadway, bureaucratic tangles and tepid support from the selectmen.

The town hired an independent environmental consultant to monitor the project after preliminary work began last fall, and twice-weekly meetings have been held between the town administrator and MassDOT, but there have been few public meetings, adding to an air of confusion around the project.

Meanwhile, the decision by the selectmen Tuesday ends, for the foreseeable future, what began as a plan to improve the Island’s bicycle path network by closing a gap between two existing shared-use paths in Tisbury.

“What the [select] board did last night really gutted one of the primary reasons for the project,” Martha’s Vineyard Commission planner Bill Veno told the Gazette Wednesday.

Island officials requested the state’s support for the shared-use path nearly a decade ago through the MVC, a state-chartered regional planning agency. After that, MassDOT decided to roll in the roadwork as well, Mr. Veno said, explaining the history of the project.

Construction was due to begin mid-winter this year, but that plan was stymied in February after a series of test pits were dug that showed the town’s sewering infrastructure was not where the state’s design indicated. Steep cost increases loomed, with no clear indication of who would pay for the added work.

Town counsel David Doneski has been involved in the back-and-forth correspondence with MassDOT.

This week, in response to a letter from Mr. Doneski detailing the infrastructure conflicts, MassDOT responded with its new proposal simplifying the design of the roadway project.

“It is clear that the MassDOT drainage system as proposed by their engineering consultants cannot proceed forward without significant revisions to their drainage system and/or the town water and wastewater system at substantial cost,” Mr. Grande wrote in a memo to selectmen summarizing the state’s response.

“MassDOT is not prepared to bear that additional cost to address the problem,” he also wrote.

Mr. Grande told his board the town is at a crossroads when it comes to Beach Road.

“We desperately need the road repaired. We desperately need new sidewalks. We need the utility poles removed from the sidewalks so they can be ADA compliant, and we need bicycle accommodations,” he said.

Under the new plan, the state will proceed to widen sidewalks, relocate utility poles and repair and repave Beach Road, but instead of the shared-use path running from Wind’s Up to Tisbury Marketplace, each side of the road will have a directional bicycle lane in the roadway. From Wind’s Up to the marketplace, the only sidewalk will be on the pond side of the road, under the new plan.

At the meeting Tuesday, planning board members Cheryl Doble and Ben Robinson both urged the select board not to quickly approve the change, which also widens the roadway.

“We have to be careful about not backing ourselves into a corner with the state without a more thorough review of what they’re proposing,” Mr. Robinson said, adding that the revised plan will not resolve a conflict arising where the inbound bike path ends at the sidewalk by Wind’s Up, facing the vehicle lane.

“The building of bike lanes is not going to make people cross the road and get into traffic. They’ll just stay on the sidewalk as they do today,” he said.

But Mr. Gomez and Mr. Kristal both supported the return to what has been termed the symmetrical plan for Beach Road, calling for an immediate vote.

Speaking with the Gazette by phone later, Mr. Robinson said the revised plan is not symmetrical and squanders state money that was approved for the shared-use path.

“Essentially, we just gave up millions of dollars,” he said.

In an email to the Gazette Wednesday, MassDOT spokesperson Judith Reardon Riley said the state is now re-evaluating the project schedule and cost revisions.

“The additional time for redesign and physical work will induce some delay to the project and we will let the town and the community know once this analysis is completed,” Ms. Riley wrote. “We anticipate some work on the project will continue, including utility relocation work, through the spring until the required Memorial Day roadway construction moratorium.”

Work will resume after Labor Day, she said.