A final draft of a county initiative to move beyond summer gridlock calls on Island officials to replace talk with action and develop a regional, coordinated plan to target growth and traffic problems on the Island.

Susan Wasserman, a planning consultant and the facilitator of the in-depth study of the Island’s transportation problems, presented the results of Transportation 2000: Moving Beyond Gridlock to the county commissioners this Wednesday along with project assistant Juleann VanBelle. A final draft of the report goes to the printer today.

“At this point, I think the number one issue on the Vineyard is, given the understanding that we really are in agreement about what has to happen -- and I can’t emphasize that enough -- an action plan is the next step and it’s got to be regional and it’s got to be coordinated,” Mrs. Wasserman said.

The comprehensive report synthesizes the findings of other groups that have completed transportation studies since the 1970s -- compiling and building on the work of countless reports that were only filed away and forgotten.

It also contains detailed information from the Moving Beyond Gridlock citizen survey, which corroborates the findings of previous groups on key issues such as whether seasonal and year-round residents agree that summer traffic is a problem, what kind of transportation experiments the Vineyard public will support and whether residents are willing to tolerate some inconvenience in order to live on the Island.

“We’ve done a lot of study and a lot of talking,” said Mrs. Wasserman this week. “Now it’s time for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the transportation authority, the countless community and private carriers, the taxis and the towns to work together to develop a coordinated system, to realize that we need to do something about growth and about traffic congestion and to recognize that public transportation is going to be a part of that solution.”

More than 2,290 of the 18,000 surveys distributed were returned to the Moving Beyond Gridlock steering committee. The results show consensus among both seasonal and year-round residents as well as up-Islanders and down-Islanders about the impact of growth on the Vineyard quality of life and how best to minimize that impact.

According to the survey results, 75 per cent of respondents believe there are too many cars and trucks on the Island during June, July and August. Survey respondents agree on the need to expand the role of public transportation on the Island and support well thought out experimentation leading toward the development of a seamless and coordinated transportation service from the Cape to the Vineyard.

“How do we get from what people will support to what people will actually pay for?” asked commissioner Elizabeth Talbot Wednesday night. She and the other commissioners thanked Mrs. Wasserman for her work.

Mrs. Wasserman said there is a group of seasonal residents working on a transportation proposal to get federal funding and that similar initiatives might be important to initial efforts. She also said that while some transportation experiments might fail, others will succeed. The important thing is to begin planning, and to begin experimenting with the alternatives available, she said.