The new Arundel Mills - Maryland's biggest shopping mall - proved a lure too big for its parking space yesterday, prompting state police to close the Ridge Road exits from Route 100 to keep motorists away from the Hanover attraction on its second day of operation.
Alisha DeFalco, a marketing specialist acting as spokeswoman for Arundel Mills, said the crowd was larger than that which attended the mall's opening on Friday and that workers were paving a 22-acre lot to add to its 6,500 spaces.
By 1:30 p.m., mall traffic had backed up onto sections of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 100. At the Ridge Road exit from eastbound Route 100, which leads into the mall lots, traffic was nearly at a standstill.
At twilight, Anne Arundel County officers surveyed the sea of more than 6,000 vehicles from a helicopter, trying to decide if the ramps could be reopened, said Officer Charles Ravenell, a county police spokesman. About 50 Anne Arundel officers worked to ease traffic woes and keep tempers in check, he said.
Suzanne Bond, a State Highway Administration spokeswoman, said signal technicians stood ready to change the timing of lights if the police thought that would help.
At an Xtramart gas station on the corner of Ridge and Dorsey roads, manager Sushil Goel griped about the traffic snarl outside - and mall patrons who clogged his restrooms and asked for directions to alternate, less-crowded entrances. (None exists.)
Goel said he figured mall traffic might bring more business, but that hasn't panned out yet, he said.
"Everyone is going to the mall to drink and eat and shop, and if they keep doing that, why would they come here?" said Goel, scanning aisles of snack items. "But if they do, I will be ready for them."