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Planners green-light funding for Emmitsburg, Mount path

(7/24) Mount St. Mary’s University and Mother Seton Elementary School students could have an easier time getting around on foot within a couple of years.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board approved funding Wednesday for a path leading from Mount St. Mary’s to downtown Emmitsburg as well as a sidewalk project on East Lincoln Avenue in front of the Mother Seton school.

"It was very good news today," Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs. "It’s just wonderful ... that this is getting closer to being a reality."

The Mount St. Mary’s path will receive $128,800 from the Transportation Alternatives Program, and the East Lincoln Avenue sidewalk project will receive $46,000.

The project on East Lincoln Avenue involves installing 1,800 feet of sidewalk improvements.

The path from the university will stretch 2.1 miles from Old Emmitsburg Road to Cedar Avenue at South Seton Avenue.

That Transportation Alternatives funding will help meet the project’s expected construction cost of $2.1 million.

Frederick County, Emmitsburg and Mount St. Mary’s will together contribute a local share of around $140,000, and the federal government may cover the remainder.

Work could begin as early as next summer, and construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.

Briggs said he hoped the path would not only have a positive effect on safety, but also the economic development of the area.

"We’re all kind of economic engines up here," he said of the university and the town, "and it makes the area very attractive if you don’t have to get into a car to do everything."

The path will give students, joggers and cyclists a 10-foot path. Briggs said that should improve safety along the road, where there have been two deaths resulting from vehicles striking pedestrians.

"That’s enough," he said.

Mount St. Mary’s senior Elizabeth DiNunzio was struck and killed in 2009 while jogging along Old Emmitsburg Road.

Thomas Powell, who was president of the university at the time, said the crash occurred in front of his home, and he held DiNunzio in his arms until first responders arrived. The experience spurred him to push for a walking path for students.

Jason Stitt, chief of Frederick County’s Office of Transportation Engineering, said without the Transportation Alternatives Program funding, the county would have had to put the projects on hold until next year so it could reapply or try to secure funding from another source.

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