Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

April 2004

Silo Hill Traffic Light

There have been several questions about the traffic light needed at the Silo Hill intersection. The light currently being installed will be a blinking warning light until such time the State's minimum traffic conditions are met. At that time, the State will then consider all operational factors prior to installing a fully operating traffic light.

Maryland Route 140 (Main Street) is a State Road, therefore, only the State can authorize a traffic light at this intersection. The State of Maryland uses a national standard for justifying traffic lights. These standards are written into the Maryland Vehicle Law, that the State Highway Administration shall follow the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) standards that describe signal justifications. Unfortunately, since we live in a society where so many people want to take legal action against one another for finical gain, the State must be very cautions and not deviate from approved standards because of legal liabilities. For those of us who live in Emmitsburg, we know that there have been several accidents at this intersection. However, most of the accidents that have occurred in this intersection have not been documented with a police report. Therefore, other than traffic counts, the State has very little documentation to compile to justify a fully operational traffic light at this time.

There has been several traffic studies (counts) done at this intersection. The most recent one completed was in February 2003. Another study is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2004 in conjunction with the reconfiguration of the North Seton Avenue and Route 15 intersection. To complete a traffic study, every car that operates through this intersection in all directions is counted. At the Silo Hill intersection, cars making a right turn from a dedicated right turn lane are not counted in the study. Cars operating straight through or making left turns are counted. When a traffic count is conducted, the State assigns a team to visit the intersection for a 14-hour period to count every car and document the direction of travel for each. Once this data is collected, it is then complied in a report form. For the four-hour signal warrant, the focus is put on the four hours with the highest traffic volume. For an example, there must be 4 of the 14 hours with a volume of 75 cars entering/exiting off Silo Hill Road and a volume of 800 cars combined operating east and west on Maryland Route 140 to meet the state standards. Although this intersection does not meet the minimum traffic flows to justify the traffic light, it does meet three out of the four hours necessary to meet the four-hour justification. By the fall of this year, 2004, the remaining homes in Silo Hill will be occupied. Also, with the increased business at the Sleep Inn, the car wash and all the stores and shops on Silo Hill Road, I believe we will most likely see this light in its fully operational stages in the next nine to twelve months.

The current blinking light is being installed due to the Town requiring the Sleep Inn Hotel to provide a traffic light at this intersection before receiving final site plan approval. The Sleep Inn Hotel has worked with the State to meet their requirement. In an effort to improve this intersection, the Sleep Inn has purchased and installed the blinking light equipment to serve as an intermediate solution until the State is able to approve the fully operational light. All of the wiring and hardware with the exception of the light fixtures and vehicle detection have been installed to convert the blinking light to a fully operational light as soon as the intersection is approved. The Town has not incurred any cost to install this light, nor will the Town be responsible for any cost to convert the blinking light fixture to the three light fixtures.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the town office, or e-mail me at

Jim Hoover

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