MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Now, the Bay Bridge doesn't just arouse fear. It can also spark, well, frustration thanks to traffic. But for all of us who've shaken our fists at the seemingly endless backups on the bridge, there are plenty of people who, in a way, welcome it. And all the tourist dollars that come with it. And that's the topic of this weeks, On The Coast.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Our regular segment in which reporter Bryan Russo brings us up to speed on the latest news from the eastern shore of Maryland and Coastal Delaware. And Bryan joins us now from Ocean City, Md. Hi, Bryan.
MR. BRYAN RUSSO
So, you don't often see people, basically, wearing I heart traffic t-shirts. Who are these people who get a kick out of traffic?
Well, basically it's the people who don't have to drive in it. In other words, they're the people who live and work here on the coast. Here's Mike Priola, he's the executive chef at an upscale restaurant called Nantucket's just a mile north of Ocean City in Fenwick Island, Del.
MR. MIKE PRIOLA
It is a necessary evil, I guess. I mean, it takes me less than 15 minutes in the winter time to get to work and it can take me upwards of 50 minutes, you know, an hour at the most, you know, when it's really bad.
That kind of sounds like the opposite of life in D.C. where the long commutes are in the winter and the shorter ones are in the summer. But I wanted to ask about another big thing drivers are dealing with right now, the high price of gas. Are people on the coast worried that gas prices might thin out some of the traffic heading their way?
Well, I talked to some people around town and at local businesses this week and here's their take on the issue. Jody Johansson bartender JC's north side pub ocean city
MR. JODI JOHANSSON
Hey, my name's Jodi Johansson and I'm a bartender here at JC's North side Pub in Ocean City. I do not think gas prices are going to affect tourism this year. I think that people are going to drive to the closest beach destination and take advantage of the situation.
MS. JOJO AGGIE
I'm Jojo (sp?) Aggie (sp?) and I work at K-Coast Girl. And I don't think gas prices are going to affect sales. Because people still love the beach and they still love our clothes.
MS. TAMMY PATRICK-CEBULA
My name is Tammy Patrick-Cebula at Galaxy 66 Bar and Grille and Lovin Life Limos Limited. I think, the gas prices have fluctuated so much in the past few years that people have adjusted their expense on the bottom line to adjust back and forth. And I really don't think that it's one of those things that we're concerned about.
MR. MICHAEL KNOWLES
Michael Knowles, I live here in Ocean City. And I don't think the gas prices are going to affect anybody coming to vacation whatsoever. I think, they all want to get away and it's not going to make any difference either way because families are still want to come to Ocean City and have a good time.
Another interesting part of this story is that Ocean City is launching a very public spin campaign on the gas price issue. They're also debating a plan to spend a million dollars of the towns advertising budget on a free gas promotion in which Ocean City would give tourists a free gallon of gas for ever night they spend at a local hotel.
Wow. It's interesting though that officials seem to be getting so anxious about this, when the people you spoke with don't really feel like gas prices will deter people from coming. But, in any case, do you think that plan about giving tourists a free gallon, do you think that plan will actually go through?
Actually, not really. There isn't much time to put this plan into action. And I'm not sure there are enough votes on the city council. Plus, sad to say, a million dollars doesn't really go that far anymore.
Interesting though. But on the topic of the cost of actually getting to the beach. Last week, the Maryland transportation authority announced plans to double the toll on the Bay Bridge from $2.50 to $5 and then increase it again to $8 in 2013. I'm assuming that is a source of concern for people on the coast.
It is for sure. I mean, although they haven't raised the toll in decades, I think people would've been okay with a 50 cent or even a $1 rise in the toll price. But the sticker shock of what the Maryland transportation authority is proposing is freaking some people out here on the coast. And probably on your side of the bridge too, I would imagine.
Well, I want to ask, what about the people who moved out to the beach to retire or the people who moved there specifically to live a more, you know, rural lifestyle? What do they have to say about all of this?
Well, long time residents have definitely seen huge changes here over the past few decades. Before the Bay Bridge was open, back in 1952, people used to take fairies around the head of the Bay to get to the eastern side of the shore. And there was definitely a much slower pace then, then there is now. Here's Ken Medell of Kent Island Express, that drive-over company that Tara was talking about in a previous segment. He's lived here on the eastern shore for a long time. And he basically says he longs for the slower pace of the old days.
MR. KEN MEDELL
It wasn't the hustle-bustle as there is across on the western shore. And I liked it that way. And now it's starting to drift over this way. You feel kind of crowded and kind of, gee, where do I go now?
But the thing is, even though people may complain a little, everyone agrees there's no going back to the way things were. Nor would most people here want to. So a lot of residents in beach communities have one message that you don’t hear very often when it comes to traffic, and that's, bring it.
Bryan Russo is the host of Coastal Connection on 88.3 in Ocean City. Thank you so much for coming back on the program, Bryan.
No problem, Rebecca, take care.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.