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Local residents express displeasure in road closing for JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon

November 16, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

Bob Harsh, who has lived on Falling Waters Road south of Williamsport all his life and owns a business there, says the closure of southbound Spielman Road (Md. 63) for Saturday’s JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon will cause him problems.

“It takes a gallon of fuel to make the detour,” Harsh, 72, said Friday. “I haven’t seen anybody standing on any corner yet handing me a $4 bill for fuel.”

Harsh’s business, County Medical Transport Inc., is a private ambulance company. He says he has to leave the business multiple times a day and, although the road will be open for him going into Williamsport, on the way back he would have to use Lappans Road (Md. 68) to Downsville Pike (Md. 632) to get back to Spielman Road.

Miles 46 to 49 of the race are run on Spielman Road.

He said that he is not against the race but he has a problem with how it is handled.

“They should take some of the money they make off the race and make a running path or a bicycle path,” he said. “I have no problem with the JFK, but don’t close my road.”

After a large LED sign Thursday on Spielman Road near Md. 68 mistakenly stated that the roadway would be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., it was corrected by Friday to state “Spielman Road Southbound Closed 11/17/12 11:30 a.m. 7 p.m.”

Many residents in the area still voiced their opposition to the closing.

“I don’t have a problem with the race and I don’t mind sharing the road, but let’s share it right,” said Charles Wiles, who owns a farm just off of Falling Waters Road. “They’re closing it because it’s a hazardous road, and it’s not conducive to runners. I suggest they run on a road that has a shoulder they can run on.”

Out of 16 residents of Falling Waters and Spielman roads between Downsville and Williamsport who spoke with The Herald-Mail on Friday, 14 said they had a problem with the southbound lane of the road closing, but none of them said they were against the race. However, two did say they had no problem with closing the road.

Marion Gaylor, who lives on Spielman Road just north of Downsville Pike, was one of those two residents.

“I like to watch them race,” Gaylor, 86, said. “The people against it need to give a little. It’s not going to hurt them that much.”

Gaylor said that she does not drive.

Cindy and Skip Kelbaugh, who live on Falling Waters Road, both expressed their displeasure with closing the road and had their own suggestions of how to solve the problem.

“They took millions of government money and spent it on the towpath, so why can’t they just run on that?” Skip Kelbaugh, 55, said. “It’s a hassle, because when you leave here you can go out and it’s OK, but coming home is a problem. Gas is not cheap.”

Traffic passes were distributed to some residents who will be affected by the race.

Jennifer Houser, 25, who lives on Spielman Road just off Downsville Pike and received one of the passes, said she still said she has a problem with part of the road closing.

“They only gave us one pass, and my husband and I are in and out all day,” she said. “It can be a pain.”

Daniel Shank, however, who lives on Falling Waters Road, said he has lived in his home for 52 years and is fine with the road closing.

“If I need to get somewhere, I can just go around it another way,” he said. “There’s no use complaining, but people complain today no matter what. Let them race.”

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