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Silo Hill could get stoplight in 2007

(7/7) Silo Hill intersection could get a traffic light "within a year" as a result of a multi-year Maryland State Highway Administration accident and traffic review, although a roundabout is also a possibility.

Town staff learned of SHA's decision at a meeting Thursday, June 29, scheduled with SHA representatives to discuss concerns about the intersection. The board of commissioners will review the stoplight and roundabout options for further action.

Three roads come together at the Silo Hill intersection: Silo Hill Road; East Main Street (MD Rt. 140); and MD Rt. 904F. Westerly, Route 904F takes traffic to the southbound lane of U.S. 15, while Route 140 provides access to the U.S. 15 northbound lane, and continues on to other points. To the east of the intersection, Route 140 serves as the main street through Emmitsburg.

After the meeting with SHA, Mayor James E. Hoover said that SHA had reviewed reported accident data back to 1991, as well as traffic patterns the agency had recorded periodically at the intersection starting in 1994. Accidents not reported to the police were not included.

The state required that a "process of elimination" be used in addressing the intersection over the years, and that "certain milestones," occur before other options were considered, Hoover said.

According to SHA data, there had been five reported accidents this year thus far at the intersection, three of which involved injuries. That brings the total accidents for mid-year 2006 to an amount equal to the two worst years on record, 2001 and 2002, each with five reported accidents.

The mayor told The Dispatch it could take up to a year for a light to be installed, because of engineering and planning, and advance warning markers to alert traffic approaching the intersection. A roundabout could take years.

Board of commissioners President Christopher V. Staiger told The Dispatch, "A roundabout would be at least three years in a best case scenario and at substantially higher cost. While a roundabout would provide for greater safety, I'm worried about a traffic signal leading to traffic backups on the east side of town at periods."

When the site plan was approved for Sleep Inn in the late-1990s, the town required the business to provide $80,000 toward traffic control at the intersection, Hoover stated. That money helped pay for the current blinking light and was installed by SHA in 2003.

The mayor said the town had asked early on for traffic studies at the intersection, with both those requests and the blinking light installation indicative of town officials' proactive stance on the issue.

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