First Responders Concerned That Weekend Traffic Jams may Cost Lives

CENTREVILLE – It may only be a matter of time before weekend beach traffic that clogs Kent Island’s back roads may cost someone their life because first responders, both paid and volunteer, can’t get from their homes to the stations or from the firehouse to the patient in a timely manner.
“We all know how important the Golden Hour is, but we have a hard time getting people and equipment to an accident,” said Commission President James Moran.
Those were the concerns shared among the first responders and regular citizens in the audience Tuesday evening at the commissioners’ regular meeting.
  Moran said the county presented to the state a Beach to Bridge plan that would alleviate some of Kent Island, Grasonville and Queenstown’s snarled traffic only to have the plan shot down by the state.
 Dr. Joseph Ciotola of the QAC Health Department said to the commissioners, “You are the board of health for the county and we have been discussing this with the state for six years. There is a risk to public health and safety if we can’t get units back and forth and the return time (from the hospitals) is a significant issue. This is an emergency situation now. I think you could declare an emergency.”
The commissioners invited the first responders, both volunteer and paid, to come back for next week’s meeting on May 28, to continue the discussion and search for solutions that can be implemented soon.
Today’s navigational apps such as Waze, note backups and redirect travelers to side roads. Last year, the county tried a Beach to Bridge plan to keep the section of Rt. 18 from Stevensville to Queenstown open to local traffic. The officers were stationed at strategic off ramps to direct motorists with western shore destinations to stay on Route 50.  “In many cases folks were simply following navigation apps in their cars which direct them onto MD 18 and other back roads. Travelers don’t realize they are leaving one back-up and getting stuck in another,” said County Administrator Todd Mohn.
At Tuesday’s meeting the commissioners voted to allocate $50,000 to pay for the additional law enforcement staff that this plan would depend on.

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