STEVENSVILLE, Md. — The summer beach traffic crisis in communities near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge has reached an ugly milestone: it's now killing business, according to some residents of Kent Island Maryland.
A popular restaurant there closed permanently. D'Alessio's Wood Fired Pizza in Stevensville, Md. shut down June 12, owner James Cronin said.
Cronin told WUSA9 that gridlock on local roads made it virtually impossible to stay open, and predicts more businesses may follow.
“We were no longer able to have delivery drivers take food out and locals wouldn't come out because of the traffic situation," Cronin said. "It's really progressed over the last several years to much worse than it ever was before. There just seems to be no solution in sight.”
Cronin said employees don't want to work at businesses near the bridge because it becomes impossible to get to and from work during periods of gridlock on local roads. Even deliveries would be blocked at times, he said.
Local authorities blame traffic apps like WAZE for making an already bad traffic situation worse by detouring beach travelers trying to beat jammed bridge traffic on US Rt. 50 onto local roads where they make it nearly impossible for local residents to move.
Jody Schulz, president of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, explained in May that it has become a public safety crisis too.
"When traffic is gridlocked, like it gets on Sundays, we physically can't get to the station to then get the equipment," Schulz said. "Everybody gets off the main road and thinks it's some secret shortcut to get to the bridge because of WAZE or some of these apps that tell them ‘hey get off here’, and you're really not saving any time. You're better off just staying on route 50.”
County Commissioner Jim Moran is encouraging law enforcement authorities to close exits more often to keep beach traffic off side roads.
Plans to expand the Bay Bridge are still in the environmental study process. Moran believes it could be a decade before there’s relief.
Cronin said the next tenant in the building he moved out of will be an orthodontist who doesn’t take patients on Sundays when traffic is routinely gridlocked.