Standstill traffic has residents seeking relief
STEVENSVILLE — On Sunday, officials from the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, including Sheriff Gary Hofmann himself, responded to Kent Island to assist with traffic flow. As residents of the county have come to expect, traffic comes to a standstill much of Sunday and significantly slows on Saturday. It’s not the way anyone wants to spend their weekend.
Sunday afternoon, Hofmann posted to social media sites, letting everyone know that anyone wishing to use Route 18 near the Friendly Food store was being redirected back to Route 50.
“This is keeping Route 18 flowing and the constant pace,” said Hofmann, noting that he was stationed in the area and that the department was receiving compliments — even the travelers are thanking us for getting them back up on 50, he said, they’re realizing that 50 moves faster.
The overall goal, said Hofmann, was to keep Route 18 traffic flowing, but he said, traffic seemed to have a hard time navigating the circle at 18 and Castle Marina.
At 5 p.m. Sunday evening, one resident observed what she determined to be at least a six mile back up on Route 18. Getting out of area neighborhoods to shop or run errands is out of the question when traffic is so congested, said many from the area.
By 7 p.m. Sunday, traffic was bumper to bumper from the Bay Bridge to other end of Route 18 at Route 50 in front of the outlet center. And travelers aren’t always friendly in their haste to get to the beach or back home. Zipping at high speeds around vehicles slowed or stopped to turn off the highway is a common occurrence, said one woman, and others sais people yelling at stopped traffic happens too.
Just stay home on the weekends, one woman recommended. Do your shopping during the week, and, if you must leave home, plan to do it early in the day, was her suggestion. Although, for those who have to work that is not an option, especially for residents who are servers and wait staff at establishments favored by out-of-town guests and others who are volunteer first responders and firefighters.
According to one woman, this summer is the worst traffic she has experienced in over 36 years of living in the area. And while complaining doesn’t fix the immediate problem, there are serious concerns that need to be addressed, she said.
One mother said the ride from her home to the emergency center in Queenstown when her son landed a fish hook in his hand took over an hour and 15 minutes — a trip that would normally take 25-35 minutes.
With the Middletown, Del., bypass planned to open in the near future an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 more vehicles have the potential to travel 301 and through Queen Anne’s County to cross the Bay Bridge.
Last summer’s traffic counters said on average 37,000 cars were on the road just east of the Bay Bridge in the May. That number is up from January’s average of 28,000. The numbers change little whether counted eastbound or westbound.
One traffic app — The Waze — was diverting diverting traffic onto Nesbit Road over the weekend, confirmed Hofmann.
“We are doing the best we can by trying to keep 18 moving,” Hofmann said on Sunday, adding that he had spoken with the State Highway Administration as well to address the concern. “I wish I were a bridge builder, but am doing the best we can with the volume headed our way from beach points.”
Hofmann said he is always open to helpful suggestions and would personally deliver them to the state.
On Route 18, Sunday afternoon traffic was at a standstill as the influx of beach travelers head back west — using Route 18 as an attempted alternative to the US 50 backup.