Toscana Corp. owner Carl Jelleme has started a change.org petition on behalf of his company pushing for the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Nobadeer Farm Road and Milestone Road to alleviate traffic congestion that has clogged Nobadeer Farm Road from end to end on most weekday mornings.
“It's not going to 100% solve the problem, but it will at least keep traffic going,” Jelleme said. “During the summer, we're just sitting in traffic for an inordinate amount of time.”
Nantucket’s Transportation Program Manager, Mike Burns, confirmed that the Nantucket Planning and Economic Development Commission supports the addition of a roundabout at the intersection and is coordinating with the state to find funding for the project.
“We are recommending the improvement,” he said.
Toscana’s headquarters are located near the intersection, and Jelleme argues that in recent years, it has become extremely time-consuming for workers to commute to work and get vehicles to jobs around the island. The traffic, he says, is particularly bad in the morning when most employees would be arriving.
“It's just gotten increasingly worse,” he said. “We've been there almost 25 years, but we've never had a problem with getting in and out of there until the last two or three years.”
Burns believes Jelleme’s petition could encourage the state to act faster and find space in the budget for a roundabout.
“It’s always helpful to have public support for these projects,” he said.
There might be some local funding for the project, but Burns believes that the majority of the cost, which could be as much as $4 million, would be shouldered by the state. If local funding is required, it will have to go before voters at Town Meeting, an option Jelleme expressed support for.
Regardless, it will be years before construction even begins. There are currently no concrete plans to build a roundabout at the intersection, and Burns estimates it will be close to five years before any are made.
Burns also objected to language in Jelleme’s petition saying that “with enough signatures and interest from our community, the [NP&EDC] has agreed to evaluate the situation.” Burns says that is inaccurate; the NP&EDC already supports installing a roundabout at the intersection and has for years.
“The NP&EDC doesn't consider or not consider projects based on petitions, and I'm not sure why that language is in there, which is unfortunate,” Burns said. “It was a very unfortunate choice of language.”
So far, Jelleme’s petition has not gained much traction. It only had 42 signatures as of Sunday evening, three days after it was initially posted.