Geoffrey D. Brown
David Czorapinski, chief of Motor Carriers
Division of the Maryland Office of Traffic Safety, left, and Emmitsburg
resident Catherine Forrence talk during spot checks of trucks traveling
through Emmitsburg on Md. 140 Thursday morning. In the background is
Trooper William Krumpe of the Maryland State Police.
Photo by Skip Lawrence
(9/27) Hundreds of trucks rumble through town every
day, at all hours, shaking Main Street homes and rattling their residents.
Catherine Forrence has had enough, and she has not kept
it a secret.
"Our Main Street was designed with horse and buggy in
mind," Ms. Forrence said Thursday as she stood with state officials at the side
of Md. 140 east of town.
Largely because of her efforts, state officials have
conducted joint unscheduled inspections of trucks for the past two weeks.
Trucks of all sizes, carrying everything from milk to chemicals to lumber, use
the road as a shortcut.
Ms. Forrence said the trucks damage the roads, their
vibrations weakening buildings and their fumes polluting the town's air. The
road is too narrow for big tractor-trailers, and houses stand as close as five
feet from the truck traffic, she said.
"We don't want the street to be wider. We want the
trucks to go away," she said.
She would also like to see a bypass around Emmitsburg
to limit a rapidly rising flow of car traffic on Md. 140.
David W. Czorapinski, Maryland highway trucking traffic
and safety chief, said every trucker en route to Emmitsburg probably knew about
the spot safety check 10 minutes after its start at 9 a.m. Still, the crew was
able to pull over and gather information on 40 trucks, write a few tickets, and
let the truckers know they're keeping an eye on traffic.
Mr. Czorapinski's job Thursday was to do a survey of
the truck traffic to find out where they are going or coming from and what
they're carrying. Joining him were state police inspectors doing safety checks
and inspectors from the state comptroller's office checking trucks for untaxed
home heating diesel fuel in their tanks.
John George, president of the transportation division
of D.L. George & Sons of Waynesboro, Pa., said a ban on truck traffic through
Emmitsburg would seriously harm his business, which relies on Md. 140 to make
"It would devastate us," he said. "We can't go nowhere
if we can't go through that town ... there's no way to get the product to
Frederick, Baltimore, Washington without going 30 to 40 miles out of our way."
But Mr. George said he supports a bypass. He is from
the Emmitsburg area and understands residents' concerns about safety and noise.
And a bypass would help truckers, who sometimes have to wait for the light to
change three times to get through downtown Emmitsburg's main intersection.
Plans exist for a bypass to the north or south of
Emmitsburg, but the state hasn't funded one because Frederick County hasn't
identified it as a top priority, according to an August letter to Ms. Forrence
from Douglas H. Simmons, deputy administrator of the State Highway
Short of a bypass, what the state can do to alleviate
traffic on Md. 140 is limited. Mr. Czorapinski said he plans to return to do a
truck count and take some photographs without being obvious.
Ms. Forrence said she is pleased Mr. Czorapinski has
taken an interest in Emmitsburg's traffic troubles, and said the safety checks
help to get unsafe truckers off the road.
"Most truck drivers--would--likely--avoid--passing
through town if an alternate route was available," she wrote in an e-mail
Thursday. "Until such a route is available, they will continue to impact