Curbing vehicle traffic

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 8:15pm

Block Island had a busy summer. Shops and restaurants were full, boats were packed to the brim, airplanes created a steady buzz at the airport.

We’re certain that the majority of people left the island with happy, lasting memories.

The downside is that between Memorial Day and Labor Day — that’s 97 days — there were 21 Life Star flights off the island. Not all of these were accident-induced injuries, of course, but by any measure that’s a lot of cases. We’re also not including the daily ambulance calls for injuries and illnesses that can be treated on-island.

There could be many reasons for this, but even the most casual observer on the island took note of the extraordinary amount of vehicular traffic clogging the roads this year. Not just cars, but also the mopeds, bikes, scooters, as well as an assortment of motorized mini-vehicles that have made a recent appearance. Navigating the roads called for real dexterity.

One day this past summer The Block Island Times posted what we thought was a humorous Google Earth image showing traffic jams on Corn Neck Road, but some of the responses were not so funny, in that some people were saying, to effect, “This was not the Block Island I remember.”

We are still one of the last great places, but traffic of all kinds is beginning to mar the Block Island experience. Perhaps the town should start planning how it will approach the next rate case that Interstate Navigation will present to the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers. Rather than, like last time, see freight rates increase across the board (with lowered vehicle rates), the town and Interstate could work on a mutually agreed-upon plan to upping the rates for non-resident vehicles during the peak season. The town should also work with the state to improve parking in Pt. Judith. This will not deter anyone from visiting us, but may make some families think twice about bringing more than one car, or bringing the car onto the island at all.