Motorists cram Washington County's roadways as holiday weekend begins

July 01, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN and DAN DEARTH |

Washington County's roadways were crammed with motorists who set out Friday to get an early start on the Fourth of July weekend.

Maryland State Police Cpl. P.A. Martin said traffic typically increases during the holidays in Washington County on Interstates 70 and 81.

"It normal," Martin said. "Westbound (I-70) is the heaviest, but eastbound is heavy, too."

Martin said I-81 south also gets a lot of traffic because people are going to the beach.

To monitor the increased traffic, state police are putting more patrols on the road to catch reckless and drunken drivers, Martin said.

Seventy-five additional troopers will be on the job this weekend to supplement the regular on-duty patrol force, state police said in a news release.

"Each barrack will deploy at least one saturation patrol during the weekend," the release said. "A saturation patrol is a team of troopers who patrol a specific area known for a high number of DUI arrests or crashes. Those troopers are focused only on identifying and arresting drunk drivers."

Washington County Emergency Services reported only a few minor accidents on Friday.

Multiple vehicles were involved in an accident that occurred at about 3 p.m. in the northbound lanes of I-81 near the five-mile marker west of Hagerstown, a Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said.

The dispatcher said the accident was minor, and the roadway didn't have to be closed.

Geoff McCammon of the Maryland State Highway Administration said there would be no lane closures on any interstate in Washington County to help deal with this weekend's traffic.

"Any major holiday weekend we try not to close any lanes on the interstate," he said.

Nearly 760,000 Maryland residents are expected to travel on Independence Day weekend, according to the AAA website.

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