Dudley Avenue now closed to through traffic
QUEENSTOWN — As an experiment, the Queenstown town commissions decided to barricade one end of Dudley Avenue to stop speeding motorists from using the road as a through way.
At the commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28, the commissioners unanimously passed a resolution that says “the southern end of Dudley Avenue (near the corner of Dudley Avenue and Del Rhodes) shall be closed to traffic.”
The barricade at the intersection will include such things as barrels, concrete barriers, cones and a sign saying the road is closed, Commissioner Michael Bowell said.
Dudley Avenue should have the barricades on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
Bowell describes a threepronged approach the commissioners are taking on the issue. First the temporary blockage on Dudley, but also the placement of “traffic calming devices” on Del Rhodes that tell people the speed limit and to slow down. The third solution is traffic enforcement by the state police and sheriff’s office.
“Everything will be a 30-day experiment, and then if it suffices to meet our objective, we will consider this permanent,” Bowell said.
The resolution passed by the commissioners details the reasons for their efforts: “Whereas, the Commissioners of Queenstown have received complaints from citizens and have observed an increase in the volume of traffic on Dudley Avenue, as well as an increase in vehicles traveling at excessive speeds.”
The issue came to a head recently when Lonnie Anthony of Queenstown approached the commissioners about the speeding traffic on Dudley, even predicting there would be a “catastrophe.” He mentioned a woman’s dog was hit and killed while the woman was walking the dog on a leash on Dudley, which has no sidewalks.
A crowd of Queenstown residents, many elderly, attended the commissioners’ meeting on Sept. 28, and expressed their concerns about speeding on Dudley and a general crime problem in the town. About 20 people attended the meeting, and most of them spoke about those issues.
Included in that crowd was Anthony.
The speeding hasn’t stopped, he said, and the speed bumps aren’t working. “The speeding is out of control. We need to consider a change,” he said.
One elderly woman said she fears walking to her mailbox across the street because the traffic is so bad. She also said it’s a real problem with children on the street. Residents also cited the incident where a Grasonville woman was struck by a car as she was walking her dog on Prospect Bay Drive West on Thursday, Sept. 22.
A male resident said Dudley begs for a sidewalk, whether the street is two-way or one-way.
One woman talked about her window being shot out by a BB gun, and many residents talked about their fear of young people in the neighborhood and fear of retaliation by people reported to police.
Town Commission President Tom Willis Jr. at one point suggested the town will need its own police officer, who would be an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, who will work on rotating shifts so people can’t tell when he’s working. The commissioners also talked about a town watch.
Mark Meil, patrol commander for the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, attended the meeting and addressed the residents and talked to some afterward. Addressing the residents, he urged them to call 911, which they can do anonymously, if they see something.
“We try to do the best we can, but you have to call,” he said.
Sometimes people post on Facebook, but he doesn’t have the staff to monitor it all the time, he said.
After the meeting, John Foster of Queenstown said the problem on Dudley venue has been going on for years, citing two circumstances that made it worse. Royal Farms opened, creating more traffic, and the state changed Route 301 so motorists can’t go north on 301 from Del Rhodes, making motorists cut through Dudley to get back onto 301 northbound.
“We’ve got too much traffic, and it’s driving through fast. It’s been a problem for 30 years, and it’s gotten worse,” he said.
Mark Meil, patrol commander of the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, speaks to a resident of Queenstown after a crowd of people complained at a Queenstown commissioners meeting about the traffic on Dudley Avenue and crime in the area.