A sailboat show, a football game and a summerlike afternoon were to blame for a traffic jam that extended for miles heading into Annapolis yesterday.
"It seems like we've got 16 million cars out there," said Sgt. L. E. Wheeler of the state police barracks in Annapolis. "There's simply no place to go."
This was an unusually busy weekend even for tourist-happy Annapolis. The U.S. Sailboat Show, which runs through the weekend, drew nearly 15,000 visitors to town. Meanwhile, the Naval Academy football team's home game yesterday against Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University drew thousands to the 27,000-seat stadium.
Adding to the madness was the unexpectedly warm weather, which drew beach crowds and slowed Bay Bridge traffic for hours.
Traffic was backed up eastbound into Annapolis starting around 10 a.m. on U.S. 50 and on alternate routes into the city such as Forest Drive, Aris T. Allen Boulevard and West Street, Sergeant Wheeler said. U.S. 50 was snarled for nearly nine miles to Davidsonville, a jam that took travelers at least 25 minutes to navigate, he said. Traffic was crawling even after the football game began at 1:30 p.m., police said.
The only road closings were temporary: three downtown Annapolis streets were closed around noon while the brigade of 4,000 midshipmen marched from the academy to the stadium, a long-standing Navy tradition. No major accidents or breakdowns were reported.