Rough Road Ahead

I recently saw the Bay Bridge taxpayer-funded advertisement "starring" the governor of Maryland. In this advertisement, one sees the governor waking some poor soul at the crack of dawn, telling him and his family to get in their car right away in order to beat the Bay Bridge traffic to the beach. He tells this family, fresh out of their deep slumber, to "go early and stay late." All of this costs Maryland taxpayers nearly $1 million.

However, there is a gaping flaw in the governor's "leave early, stay late" scheme. The family he encourages to get up early to go to the beach and come back late has a problem, unless they are camping or staying with relatives or friends. Most every beach hotel or condominium doesn't allow patrons to check in until at least 2 p.m. And the checkout time is usually 11 a.m. So what is a family to do when they have reached the beach too early? Should they bundle up on the sand and take a nap until their unit is ready? Worse still, should they stay on the boardwalk until midnight, when they decide to "leave late"?

Let's face it: Backups on the bridge are so bad that my constituents in Southern Maryland are saying no to the bridge and ultimately to the economy on the Eastern Shore. Put simply, they are staying home. Sure, it helps our local economy when they stay home. But meanwhile the Shore's economy suffers.

I love Ocean City. It is one of the finest family resorts in our nation. However, I share my constituents' disdain for the Bay Bridge traffic. Recently, I talked to one woman whose mother lives on the Eastern Shore. Sadly, she said she had no plans to visit her mother until after the summer.

Two weeks ago, I left my home in St. Mary's County in the middle of the week to attend a conference in Ocean City. It took me nearly six hours to reach the beach.

The day after I watched the governor's taxpayer-funded infomercial, WUSA-TV and other media outlets reported that traffic backups on the bridge are the third worst in the nation according to a study conducted by the American Highway Users Alliance, AAA and TRIP (The Road Information Program), a national transportation research group. That study should be what concerns the governor, rather than pouring unnecessary money into a scheme to tell us that everything is just great with the bridge, when it is not.

Seeking a long-term solution to Bay Bridge traffic, the governor has established a commission to study where to put a third bridge span. Many are predicting it will be placed in Southern Maryland, where traffic gridlock is already terrible. The last thing we need in Southern Maryland to solve the bay traffic problem is a third crossing right in our back yard!

Roy P. Dyson

State senator

D-St. Mary's