When a truck ran into trouble last week in the new roundabout at Main Street and George Ryder Road in West Chatham, it took little time for the naysayers and opponents of the West Chatham Roadway Project to take to social media to say “I told you so.” The incident bore out their worst fears: that the changes would condemn the road to a future of accidents and traffic snarls and kill the West Chatham business district.
There's an analogy here to the presidential election. When you look at an incomplete picture, you can't see the end product. By midnight on Nov. 3, it wasn't clear who had won the election. A day later, there was still no clear winner. It took five days before enough detail emerged to reveal the final picture that most people – certainly not all, of course – accepted.
The West Chatham project is not finished. Last week's incident involved a truck getting stuck in a section of the roundabout that had yet to be filled in. As the work progresses, it will reveal a more complete picture of how the roundabout functions. The center portion of the traffic circle will be in filled with paving stones, similar to the roundabout on Route 39 in East Harwich, because it's anticipated trucks will need that space to navigate the roadway. That's how it was designed. When something isn't fully completed and yet is being used as if it were, it's not surprising that problems occur.
To be sure, even in this incomplete stage, some flaws in the project are emerging. Some curb cuts into businesses and roads along the south side of the highway appear too narrow. At this early stage, issues like that can be addressed. But like waiting for election results during a pandemic, patience is necessary before concluding that something something as complex as the West Chatham Roadway Project is a failure, especially when it is far from finished.