(August 2003) - Some parking spaces around Town Square
might have to be removed in the interest of better traffic
Town officials and state engineers say
traffic backups at the Main Street-Seton Avenue intersection
aren’t likely to go away unless some parallel parking spaces
are sacrificed to provide room for left-turn lanes. "It’s
going to cause problems," said David Haller, the town manager,
"but we have to do that."
No one at a recent Town Hall meeting
relished the idea of reducing parking, but they hoped they
would need to eliminate only seven or eight spaces. Businesses
count on them for customer convenience.
"Do we want a downtown that the
businesses are all closed up?" asked Patrick Boyle, president
of the board of commissioners.
Mayor Jim Hoover said the board is stuck with
determining which is more important to town residents keeping
the parking spaces or keeping vehicles moving through town. He
said the plan lacked resident support when it was discussed
about four years ago, but there could be enough frustration
with the problem to require action now.
Mr. Boyle asked about regulating the
traffic signal to allow just one direction of traffic to move
at a time so turning vehicles won't be impeded by oncoming
traffic. John M. Concannon, the State Highway Administration's
assistant district engineer for traffic, said that process,
known as split-phasing, can be used at the intersection.
However, Mr. Concannon said the best
option generally is to use left-turn lanes and split-phasing
Though the problem is known, Mr.
Concannon said SHA wants to gather new data on the
intersection before making a final suggestion. He said the
agency would survey the intersection after school starts, and
town officials agreed to wait.
The other primary area of concern was
the intersection of Main Street and Silo Hill Road. A flashing
light should be erected there soon, but the town officials
believe a fully operating signal is needed, at least at
Robert L. Fisher, district engineer,
said the last study of that area showed that the traffic
volume off Silo Hill Road and other determining factors
werenąt great enough to warrant a regular signal. Mr. Hoover
asked about having it operate fully only during peak use
hours, but Mr. Fisher said that action "ruins driver
expectancy" and can lead to accidents.
Commissioner Art Elder, who lives near
the intersection, said he doubted the blinking lights would
work. " I guarantee that if you put a blinker there," he said,
"somebody is going to get killed."
But Mr. Fisher explained that unless
there were extraordinary circumstances, SHA could be liable
for accidents at an intersection if it installed a traffic
signal that wasn’t warranted based on established criteria.
Mr. Concannon said SHA will do another study after the
blinking light is installed to see how close the intersection
is to needing a regular signal. The Emmitsburg officials also
inquired about help with traffic around the town’s post
office. Mr. Fisher said SHA would work with the town once it
decided what traffic pattern it wants.
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