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Stoplight coming to Rt 140 and Silo Hill Road

Some residents still calling for bypass

Ingrid Mezo

(7/27) Many Emmitsburg residents are delighted that something is finally being done about the intersection of Md. Route 140 and Silo Hill Road.

The town board voted during a town meeting on July 17 to ask the State Highway Administration to install a fully operational traffic light to replace the blinking light.

Though residents have been calling for such a light for years, Catherine Forrence, a town resident and Streets and Transportation Committee member, sent the state photos of recent crashes at the intersection, giving new urgency to the effort.

The town board then met with state officials to discuss a full stoplight, and the state conducted traffic studies, which concluded the light would be warranted.

A fully operational light is expected to be installed in seven to nine months.

‘‘It’s about time,” said Martin Miller of Emmitsburg. ‘‘I’m still a little upset that it’s taken so long, because the blinker there is set up for a traffic light. I could understand a month or so, but nine months? The state’s probably going to come out and have to research how long they should have the light green for 140. I mean, I understand that, but ...”

Town officials have said the time delay is due to the number of other intersections waiting for a light.

Miller lives on Second Avenue in town, and tried years ago to petition the town to do something about the intersection. When nothing happened, he gave up.

‘‘The state’s been falling behind, that much I’ll admit,” he said.

Some, however, wanted a traffic circle instead of a stoplight. Commissioner Chris Staiger voted against the light because he said it would make it next-to impossible to get a traffic circle, which would be more aesthetically pleasing.

In addition, Staiger said that, according to his conversations with state officials, traffic circles work better to slow down traffic and prevent accidents. Commissioner Glenn Blanchard was absent from the meeting.

But others said the area is too small for a traffic circle, and having trucks go around a circle could cause them to tip over. That would make the intersection more hazardous than it is now, some say.

Forrence spoke in favor of the board’s support of a light.

‘‘I don’t think there’s enough space for a circle there, as far as tractor-trailers having to go around that bend,” she said. ‘‘How much land are we going to have to take from the person that owns the Jubilee and the person across the street?”

She said the town should ask for state money for a bypass, not a circle. The circle, town officials said, could take anywhere from three to 10 years to construct. In the meantime, accidents would still occur.

Miller, a licensed truck driver, agreed. ‘‘Getting a bypass ... would probably solve most of Emmitsburg’s traffic problems.”

In addition, placing a circle at the intersection could cause environmental problems, Forrence said. ‘‘There’s a creek right down the hill from there, and we talked about runoff and all those issues,” she said.

Miller pointed out that the surge in development in Pennsylvania, just north of Emmitsburg, in the past few years is the primary cause of the town’s traffic problems.

‘‘Somebody needs to speak up and say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem and it needs to be addressed,’ and of course we all know it’s traffic in general,” he said. ‘‘Of course, the 1,400 homes that are supposed to come in from Pennsylvania, that would just crush us. They’re going to have to do something up there as well.”

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