KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — Bay Bridge traffic is causing headaches for locals on Kent Island and officials are pushing to prevent out-of-towners from clogging up local roads.

The backups are standard in the summer season, but with a redecking project starting this month, worse delays are expected to last two years.

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“A 35-minute trip takes sometimes three hours,” said driver Karen Green.

“Make sure everything’s done before Sunday. Sunday, you don’t leave the house,” laughed Kelsey Popham.

Kelsey Popham laughs it off to deal with the frustration many Queen Anne’s County residents are feeling.

“Since April, we’re averaging eight-mile backups every Sunday. Last Sunday, October 20, it got to 15 miles. It’s absolutely crazy. People don’t leave their homes,” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner James Moran.

When Bay Bridge traffic is backed up westbound, traffic is bottlenecked, pushing many cars to local roads to avoid waiting in miles-long backups on Route 50.

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“The side roads fill up so much, so it takes an hour to get to the grocery store on a bad day,” said driver Bill Woodside.

Employees can’t get to work on time and volunteer firefighters can’t get to the station. For those reasons and others, the community wants to see the two-year project finished much quicker.

“We travel the bridge a lot. We go out there on calls a lot. We understand that. But, also, if they can get it done faster, in one year instead of two years, I think that would help a lot,” said Tracy Schulz with the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department.

Moran said he wants the state to close specific exit ramps to allow only local traffic, but the state said that likely won’t happen.

“We’re trying to see if we can keep at least Route 18 clear, so the citizens, emergency services and businesses can function.

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The redecking project limits the westbound span from three lanes down to two through at least April of next year. That span is closed entirely between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., forcing drivers to share the eastbound span.

Paul Gessler