Return from shore triggers backup Highways home clogged for miles

June 01, 1993|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,Staff Writer

Vacationers fled the Maryland and Delaware resorts en masse yesterday afternoon, clogging highways on the Eastern Shore and triggering a 26-mile rolling backup in one of the worst Memorial Day traffic jams in recent memory.

State police blamed the backup on the weather, saying the threat of rain apparently sent everyone packing at the same time.

"Usually, people stagger their departures, but this time it looks like everyone decided to get an early start," said Lt. Charles Shue of the state police barracks in Easton.

The biggest jam occurred on Route 50 where, at 5 p.m., westbound traffic was backed from the Route 301 intersection to the Choptank River -- a distance of 26 miles.

Alternative routes provided little respite for hapless motorists. Twin back-ups of 11 miles each plagued those returning from the beach via Route 404.

"It's the worst tie-up I've seen on Memorial Day in 14 years," said Gene Simmers, a State Highway Administration spokesman. "We've got technicians holding some traffic signals for as long as six minutes at a time, but cars are still moving at a snail's pace."

Traffic was moving at only about 10 mph, Mr. Simmers said.

"It's not a question of accidents. It's just a record number of cars coming back," he said.

The snarl cleared out just east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, where traffic reportedly was moving at a brisk 40 mph.

State police officials said the clogged traffic could have been worse, given an accident or two.

"We've had no particular problems," said Sgt. Vincent Maas, of the state police barracks in Centreville.

"It's just too many people in the same place at the same time."

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