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Spielman Road sign sends wrong message

The route will be closed to traffic only in the southbound lane for the JFK 50 Mile

November 15, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • A large LED sign on Spielman Road near Md. 68 incorrectly states that the roadway will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., when roughly 1,000 runners are expected to converge on the area. Spielman Road is to be closed to traffic only in the southbound lane.
Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

The director of the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon said Spielman Road near Williamsport won’t be completely closed to traffic during the race on Saturday despite a sign that says otherwise.

Mike Spinnler said a large LED sign on Spielman Road near Md. 68 incorrectly states that the roadway will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., when roughly 1,000 runners are expected to converge on the area.

“There must be a miscommunication,” he said. “It won’t be completely closed.”

Spinnler said Spielman Road is to be closed to traffic only in the southbound lane.

“We really have tried to do our best to try to minimize the impact that the race has on residents,” Spinnler said.

He said race organizers last week visited the homes of residents who will be affected by the ultramarathon and distributed traffic passes permitting them to travel in and out of the area during the race.

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“We understand we’re an inconvenience, but no resident will be kept out of going to their home,” he said.

He said that despite the inconvenience, the race’s estimated 1,000 participants bring a lot of money to Washington County.

Tom Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the positive economic impact of the race is estimated conservatively at $350,000 to $500,000.

“In my opinion, the number of active duty military service members and veterans who participate (more than one third) make this event something all Americans should embrace,” Riford said in an email. “This, the largest, oldest, and most prestigious athletic event of its kind, should be a point of pride for all local residents. A lot of money is raised for wounded warriors, through the JFK’s donation to Team Red, White and Blue.”

In addition to passing out road passes to local residents, Spinnler said race organizers have utilized other methods to mitigate the inconvenience caused by the event.

He said the first 40 years of the JFK 50 were held until 9 p.m., but officials moved up the start of the race two hours earlier so it would end at 7 p.m. He said the move allowed roadways to be restored to normal two hours earlier.

Heather Keels, a Maryland State Highway Administration spokeswoman, said SHA officials gave race organizers permission to place the sign on Spielman Road.

She said Thursday afternoon that SHA was trying to contact Maryland State Police to change the incorrect information on the sign to reduce confusion.

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