Here's some news to take your mind off the snow: The Coast Guard has agreed to reduce openings of the Kent Narrows drawbridge during summer weekends so beach traffic can speed along Route 50 to the Atlantic shore, Rep. Roy Dyson (D-Md.) said today.
Dyson met with Coast Guard Rear Adm. John D. Costello and state officials last week to hammer out the agreement, which should quell a long-standing dispute between the state and the federal maritime agency.
He said the plan calls for the draw to stay closed to accommodate car traffic on Fridays from 3 to 8 p.m.; on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., except for one noon opening, and on Sundays from 1 to 8 p.m.
As a salve to boaters, the draw will open earlier in the morning (6 a.m.) and later in the evening (8 p.m.) than it has in the past.
Dyson said the Coast Guard will publish the new schedule for public comment later this month so it can be in place by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the beach season.
Last year the bridge opened hourly every day, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., except for three hours early Saturday morning and two hours Sunday evening.
Last month state and local officials met in Grasonville, near the bridge, to protest that schedule. The state contended that on a typical summer weekend, 118,300 cars crossed the bridge, while only 145 boats went through the open draw.
State officials said the hourly openings unfairly favored boaters, leaving motorists in steamy traffic jams of 6 to 14 miles while they waited for two or three yachts to pass.
The bridge is the only road link between the beaches of the Eastern Shore and Kent Island, at the base of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Kent Narrows, which it spans, is the only water link between the mouth of the Chester River and the Eastern Bay, two major estuaries.