Those who drive with Google Maps turned on will be familiar with this scenario; caught up in a hopeless traffic jam, your map app pops up with the enticing message that you might save 20 minutes of this mess if you exit and follow the side road to avoid congestion.
That happens almost every weekend along Route 50 in Queen Anne’s County. As the traffic from the beach to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge slows to a halt as cars wait their turn to cross the western span, hundreds of smartphones go off, telling drivers to detour to the parallel Route 18 to save time.
Many of those drivers do save a few minutes, but the consequences of having those cars in this secondary road are becoming a nightmare for the almost 30,000 residents in the area who need that state highway for their everyday needs.
From grocery shopping to children’s soccer games, the Kent Island community is finding itself increasingly isolated for sometimes hours at a time as Route 18 fills up with beach traffic.
To combat this significant impact on quality of life and safety, Queen Anne’s County is now working with the Maryland State Highway Administration and Maryland Transportation Authority to experiment with temporary closings of the most popular exit points along Route 50 to measure its impact.
The Spy asked Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jim Moran and County Administrator Todd Mohn to provide more details about the September weekend tests.
This video is approximately 6 minutes in length.
This is the offficel QAC press release:
Temporary Ramp Closures Planned in Queen Anne’s County along US 50/301
In a joint effort with the Maryland State Highway Administration and Maryland Transportation Authority, we are excited to announce a new initiative to help keep summer beach traffic on US 50/301. This new pilot program is aimed at enhancing traffic flow and ensuring the safety and mobility for local services by reducing congestion on MD Route 18 and other adjacent local roadways. Following the success of a similar program in Anne Arundel County earlier this summer, Queen Anne’s County in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration and Maryland Transportation Authority, will be launching this program on the eastern shore which will close or restrict access onto US 50/301 from several on-off ramps along the heavily traveled corridor.
The temporary entrance ramp closures are scheduled to begin in mid-September.
County Commissioner Jim Moran expressed his enthusiasm for the program, saying, “we understand the impact these unprecedented traffic backups are causing the citizens of Queen Anne’s County and we remain committed to finding solutions to alleviate some of the impacts to our residents. The County has been working on our own “Beach to Bridge Plan” and are pleased to be partners with the state to be in a proactive position to launch our own pilot. This has been a complicated exercise as we have 15 ramps along a 9 mile stretch of US 50/301. We also have the Kent Narrows, multiple shopping centers, gas/convenience stores, and schools to take into consideration. Comparing our situation to Anne Arundel County’s 2.5 mile corridor with 3 ramps has made our proposal more challenging and we understand that refinements will be likely be needed going forward. After this year’s pilot program is concluded, we are planning to hold some Town Hall meetings to receive comments and suggestions that can help us all prepare for next year’s beach traffic season”.
To ensure smooth travel during the closure period, drivers are encouraged to plan their routes ahead of time. Visitors heading to or from the beach are advised to stay on Route 50, which will remain unaffected by the ramp closures.
Queen Anne’s County and the State Highway Administration are working diligently on the final details of the program. Prior to its official launch, comprehensive information about the closures and alternative routes will be released. This will enable residents to plan their travels during the affected period and minimize any potential inconveniences.
To stay updated on the latest developments and receive timely announcements regarding the temporary entrance ramp closures, residents are encouraged to follow Queen Anne’s County Government on social media @QACGOV and visit the official website at www.qac.org.