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Town won't bypass worries

Officials say proposed route is far in the future

Ashley Andyshak
News-Post Staff

(8/29) Residents spoke their minds this week about a proposed bypass route around the town, but the planning commission assured them a final plan is far in the future.

The town is considering bypass routes as it updates its comprehensive plan. At a Monday evening meeting Chris Jakubiak, of Jakubiak and Associates, presented the firm's proposed southern bypass route for a second time.

Jakubiak said the southern route would not have to be a high-speed parkway. Instead, it could be a network of road improvements to existing roads.

The first proposed step would be a connector road from Md. 140 at Tract Road to South Seton Avenue. The second phase would incorporate Annandale Road. Further construction could include a third road connecting South Seton Avenue to Md. 140 farther west.

Jakubiak confirmed some residents' fears that the end result could displace at least one home, but said that move is something planners "would seek to avoid."

The town included a northern bypass connecting Md. 140 and U.S. 15 in its 1998 comprehensive plan. The bypass would keep most of the area's truck traffic out of town, but that no longer is a feasible option, Jakubiak said. The area contains homes and properties designated for agricultural preservation, he said.

Also, a northern bypass would require public funding, while a western bypass could be built with funds from developers, such as Andy Mackintosh.

Mackintosh offered to pay for a southern bypass route earlier this year in return for approval of his development plans for 200 acres west of town.

"This bypass is not going to please everybody," he said Monday. "There's no perfect way, but we'll do our best."

Jakubiak said having a developer who is willing to pay for a bypass route would help keep the cost burden off the state or county government.

Planning commissioner Patrick Joy said that while a bypass would ease truck and commuter traffic in town, It also could deter weekend traffic, such as that from Ski Liberty in Carroll Valley, Pa., away from town and therefore away from downtown businesses.

But, Jakubiak said the town needs to consider a bypass if it wants to continue to grow.

About 8,000 vehicles travel Emmitsburg's Main Street every day, according to Jakubiak and Associates' estimates presented at prior meetings. Development along Tract Road and state Route 16 in Pennsylvania could add 4,000 more.

In-town development provided for in the town's draft comprehensive plan could bring more then 1,000 new homes by 2030, Jakubiak said.

Several residents said they think Pennsylvania governments should be responsible for traffic generated by developments in their jurisdictions, and town planners agreed that more discussion with the town's northern neighbors is needed.

Planning commissioner Tim O'Donnell said he'd like to see Emmitsburg officials meet with supervisors of Liberty and Freedom townships in Pennsylvania to understand how traffic from the north will affect Emmitsburg roads.

O'Donnell also said he'd like to see several road options written into the comprehensive plan, with the costs and benefits — and the public opinions -- of each included.

Town officials said the a final bypass plan is far from being finished.

"This is not the 11th hour," commissioner Glenn Blanchard said.

Joy said the town is accepting written comments on the bypass options.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government