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Council passes resolution in support of bypass

Ingrid Mezo

(8/31) The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to support a traffic bypass around town.

According to Commissioner Chris Staiger, who sponsored the resolution, the bypass would provide an alternative from Md. Route 140 west of Emmitsburg to U.S. Route 15.

‘‘The goal of the resolution is to maintain and improve municipal health safety and welfare in Emmitsburg’s Village Zone District, which encompasses most of the historic Town Center along Main Street and North and South Seton Avenues," Staiger wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette.

The bypass is included in the Frederick County Transportation Plan, which spells out road projects county officials would like to undertake. County officials pass that plan along to the state when asking for funding.

Staiger said Commissioner Bill O’Neil supported him in sponsoring the resolution.

The town’s comprehensive plan as well as the county’s Thurmont Region Plan, which includes Emmitsburg, projects growth in the area, so town officials expect increased traffic volumes through the already overburdened town streets in the coming years.

‘‘The county has to make its plans, and this was a way for us to show unanimous support for a bypass, particularly to alleviate truck congestion," O’Neil said Wednesday.

The county met on Wednesday to discuss transportation priorities, O’Neil said, which was why the town held a special meeting the night before.

The text of the resolution states several reasons for needing a bypass, including ‘‘limited, additional design improvements to the [current] route can be made without adversely impacting the current zoning, which is meant to preserve and promote the mixed use character of the Village Zone."

Staiger said the area is becoming more congested due to truck and commuter traffic on Route 140.

‘‘Over the years, the town has worked with the State Highway Administration to make improvements where possible, but the quality of life along this corridor at the heart of the town will inevitably deteriorate as more and more commuter demands are placed on a 19th century design," Staiger wrote. ‘‘I don’t believe it’s acceptable to fundamentally alter the nature of the area and further burden residents just to speed up the commute to Baltimore or Washington."

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