One week after an Oak Bluffs selectman withdrew his support for the planned roundabout at the blinker intersection, new doubts are surfacing over the future of the project.
Selectman Richard Combra unexpectedly reversed his stance at the regular board meeting last week. Mr. Combra said he thinks the roundabout could create more bottlenecks at the Triangle intersection on the Edgartown end and the State Road intersection on the Vineyard Haven end.
A closer look is needed, he said.
The roundabout is now set for more discussion at the selectmen's regular meeting Tuesday night.
"I've had my reservations all along, but now people are really voicing their doubts," Oak Bluffs selectman Kerry Scott said this week. "There is a growing number of people that want an answer to one simple question: What is wrong with what we have now? Ours is a two-month problem, and I don't think this solution works. And now that there are two selectmen that won't support it, I think the project is in jeopardy."
Ms. Scott pointed to the lack of provisions for pedestrians and bicyclists and increased signage and lighting as two key problems with the current proposal.
"That is a major intersection for cyclists and even students. Right now, a roundabout would cut one side off from the other. We're talking about major public safety issues. And the added blinking lights and extra street lights will certainly have a significant impact on the neighborhood," Ms. Scott said.
The roundabout has been modeled after similar traffic circles in Duxbury and Marstons Mills, both of which have been praised by town officials for their effectiveness. But Ms. Scott pointed out that the year-round population in the two towns doesn't fluctuate as wildly as on the Vineyard. In Duxbury and Marstons Mills, she said, the roundabout serves more commuters.
"They are solutions that work for their communities," Ms. Scott said. "We need a solution that works for ours.
"The real question is, what is going to happen if more people and more cars get through that intersection faster?" she continued. "More traffic is more traffic. A roundabout only displaces the problem. My gut tells me that in the end, it won't happen."
Mr. Combra's change in position came one week after the board awarded a $40,000 design contract for the roundabout to an engineering and architecture firm from Stoneham.