Three weeks ago, we asked readers to tell us what they think of Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer's "Reach the Beach" program.

Designed to ease traffic congestion and speed the trip to the Maryland-Delaware beaches, the program included the creation of express lanes on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for drivers with exact toll and prepurchased tickets; the widening of Rte. 50 on Kent Island and other road improvements; an increase in state police presence to assist motorists, and the establishment of a toll-free number (800-541-9595) for traffic information.

The consensus seems to be that the program has helped, but there's much more to be done. Here are some of your responses: Dear Dr. Gridlock: The "Reach the Beach" effort is the best idea concerning beachbound motorists since the second span of the Bay Bridge was constructed! As I was able to call the 800 number for traffic information, I encountered virtually no traffic tie-ups during my trip to and from Ocean City during the July 4th holiday. "Reach the Beach" has helped correct the single biggest problem in attempting to enjoy Maryland's beaches.



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a weekend commuter from Arlington to Rehoboth, I can say that Maryland's "Reach the Beach" program works very well.

Widening Rte. 50 on Kent Island has really reduced delays there. Drivers now have a safe, legal way to pass slower vehicles that always seem to ride in tandem, blocking two lanes.

The radio reports are timely and accurate, allowing drivers to take alternate routes when the main roads are congested.

The opening of the Denton bypass has also reduced hassles and driving time to the beach. But to complete the program, the state needs to build more overpasses at the controlled intersections on Kent Island.

I think residents there deserve easier access across Rte. 50. Maryland deserves credit for the speed in which it implemented this program.

In Virginia, it would take 10 years to implement something comparable, and it probably would not work as well.



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The "Reach the Beach" program has been blindsided by the Rte. 50 construction work on the Severn River Bridge.

This bridge is creating monster traffic jams which, in fact, only serve to reduce friction at the traditional Rte. 50 choke points. In effect, the jams have merely been moved from one place to another.

Widening Rte. 50 through Kent Island only helps westbound traffic; eastbound traffic is still two lanes, with only one dangerous portion open to three lanes before it closes back to two lanes.

There are too many feeder lanes for Rte. 50 at the Washington Beltway and Annapolis areas; there are so many, in fact, that the future widening of Rte. 50 to three lanes in each direction will be inadequate, including the Severn Bridge.


Chester, Md.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Please have Gov. Schaefer try driving over the Severn River Bridge in Annapolis at night. It's the pits.

We've been stuck there longer and without moving than on the Bay Bridge.



Construction on the Severn River Bridge does cause delays on week nights, but isn't responsible for holding up the weekend beach traffic, according to Edward Meehan, district engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The bridge is being redecked and widened. It now has two lanes in each direction and a third lane is being added. But Meehan said that even with the construction, the bridge still has two lanes open in each direction most of the time.

The work crews close one lane in each direction Monday through Thursday nights from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. But on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, when beach traffic is heaviest, they leave four lanes open all the time.

Meehan said the work, which began a year ago, won't be completed until next February. In the meantime, it looks like your wisest move is to try to avoid the bridge after 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My wife and I returned yesterday to Silver Spring from Ocean City. Three times now we have sailed with absolutely no backups from Ocean City to Washington.

In fact, if anything, I was pushed to keep up with traffic all the way. My hat is really off to our governor for his foresight in seeing the problem areas and then doing something constructive to relieve them.

For once people at the behest of the governor are doing their jobs.

It used to really bug me to be in a 12- to 15-mile backup and see the troopers sitting in their cars between Kent Island and the Rte. 50 cutoff from {Rte.} 301 at congested intersections, and never lift a finger to control the flow of traffic.

This is our 29th season at Ocean City and we have seen it all; now what a change.

You can bet that Gov. Schaefer will have my wholehearted support come election time. I think it is not only smart but very practical.


Silver Spring

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Gov. Schaefer's program, "Reach the Beach," is a step in the right direction.

I only hope one of these years we will have a no traffic light route from Bay Bridge to Ocean City. Myrtle Beach {S.C.} has this from Rte. 95.

Last month we went to Ocean City using Rte. 50. The lights in Cambridge and Salisbury were not synchronized. The traffic backed up in both towns. Kent Island needs more bridges over Rte. 50.



Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a frequent traveler to Ocean City for the last 11 years, I still encounter the same traffic problems in the vicinity of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. On Thursday morning, June 18, while en route to Ocean City, traffic was stopped dead 1 1/2 miles before the Bay Bridge.

It took me 45 minutes to drive that mile and a half. The reason for the traffic jam was that road repair work was being accomplished on the eastbound bridge and one of the two traffic lanes across the bridge was closed. Now the westbound bridge has three traffic lanes, some of which may be reversed to handle eastbound traffic in case of an overload on the eastbound bridge.

On this particular day a lane on the westbound bridge was not reversed until I was halfway across the bridge.

It would seem to me that when a traffic lane is to be closed on the eastbound bridge one lane on the westbound bridge should be reversed immediately so that there is no interruption in the flow of eastbound traffic. This simple procedure would preclude the buildup of a traffic jam such as occurred on that day.

Although this same situation has occurred many times over the past 11 years, it would seem with such a program as "Reach the Beach" the above suggestion would be a very simple solution to a frustrating traffic jam and would help in reaching the beach a little easier.


Falls Church