YOU CAN TAKE all that pre-holiday "Reach the Beach" hoopla from Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer with a grain of sand: traffic last weekend from here to there was as bad as it has ever been. True, the governor's office coupled every promise of progress to a caution that peak hours could get awful and urged travelers to leave in the middle of the night, a day earlier or later than other people for best results. An editorial in The Sun a week ago said "the good news is that it will be easier driving there than in the past because of some highway and bridge improvements; the not-so-good news is that it still could be bumper-to-bumper at peak traveling times." Score one for not-so-good, with a nod toward absolutely awful.

Serves 'em right, say those who thought better than to join the pack or would have but couldn't. True, there are bound to be backups at the most obvious peak hours of the weekend. True, too, that for the most part, traffic on the Bay Bridge moved reasonably well because Gov. Schaefer's crews met their deadline for renovating one of the two spans.

But the Kent Narrows crossing is a terrible bottleneck, even when the drawbridge isn't opening for boaters. Why not make it one-way for brief periods? The sooner a new high arc can be built, the better. And though the weekend's extra patrols of police did help somewhat, more troopers with a better feel for the flow could improve things.

The likelihood of another logjam like Monday's is slim, at least until Labor Day. But Gov. Schaefer's vigorous promotion of tourism -- which sparked his welcome attempts to improve beach travel -- will have accomplished nothing unless he can keep things moving on the "normal" summer weekends still to come.