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Traffic problems, road closures
hurting local businesses

James Rada, Jr.
Emmitsburg
News Journal

(June, 2010) Some have called it the perfect storm against Emmitsburg businesses. Begin with an economic crash that caused people to think twice about the money they spend. Add to that a town sewer and water project that tore up the alleyways in Emmitsburg, making it hard to avoid the heavier-trafficked main roads. Finally, close off a portion of one of the townís main roads.

What do you have?

Long lines of frustrated drivers who just want to get through town but canít figure out a route that is open or not jammed with cars. Other people just find ways to avoid the town altogether. Either way, it means potential business customers are taking their spending dollars elsewhere at a time when itís harder for businesses to find those dollars.

"In this economy in my opinion, where the recovery is still fragile, this is one more detriment to business," said Bob Hance, owner of the Carriage House Inn and Redís Tavern and president of the Emmitsburg Professional and Building Association.

He said that with all of the high school graduations at the Knott Arena in May, the Carriage House Inn typically gets a lot of business from families who come into the area from other locations. It didnít happen as much this year. Hance credits part of the problem to the sign on Route 15 North that tells drivers South Seton is closed at Main.

"These people donít know how far up Main Street is and whether they can get to the businesses or not so they go somewhere else," Hance said.

Petey Fitzgerald, owner of Fitzgeraldís Auto and Cycle Service, says he runs into traffic problems in town all the time when he is going out to tow a car, provide a jump start or take a customer home. He has tried to go out North Seton Avenue to Route 15 South when he can, but even that has created some problems if he actually needs to go north.

Dee Connolly owns Antique Folly on East Main and her property backs up to Lincoln Avenue. There have been times when she and her husband were blocked in and could not get out of their driveway.

"Nobody informed us when the work would be done," Connolly said.

She said when she called the town office, she was told that she needed to watch the town cable channel. When she checked the channel, it said there would be intermittent closures of the alley, which did nothing to tell he when she would be able to get out of her driveway or not.

She also noted that a lot of her business walks over from the Antique Mall. That canít happen now because of all the work being done on and traffic on Lincoln Avenue.

Hance wonders why the alley work isnít being done on a graveyard shift to keep it open when people are using it.

"The town should be doing everything possible to help businesses in town," Hance said.

He points to the old adage that "You only have one chance to make a good first impression." He feels that right now it isnít happening in Emmitsburg. Tourists with money to spend come to town and see the traffic problem and they wonít come back because they donít want to have to deal with the problems.

As things stand now, the closed section of South Seton Avenue wonít be reopened to late June and the alley work may be complete the middle of this month.

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