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Thousands to cross Bay Bridge for Memorial Day weekend. AAA reminds travelers to "pack their patience"

How bad will traffic be at the Bay Beach over Memorial Day weekend?
How bad will traffic be at the Bay Beach over Memorial Day weekend? 02:50

BALTIMORE --  Thousands of people are expected to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to enjoy Maryland's Eastern Shore this Memorial Day Weekend.  

The unofficial start to summer is just days away and many people from across the region will be descending on the state's beaches, soaking up the sun and enjoying the water. 

While the weekend marks a weekend to get away, it is also a time for somber reflection and remembrance to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

More than 300,000 cars are expected to cross the Bay Bridge this weekend. 

So, if you are dreading the bridge traffic, AAA says you may want to get out early, ideally before lunchtime on Thursday or Friday.

"AAA wants to remind travelers to pack their patience," said Ragina Cooper Ali, from AAA Mid-Atlantic. "We certainly at AAA expect, not only the roadways to be busy, but we also expect the airports to be especially busy."

AAA estimates peak travel times will be Thursday and Friday afternoons when people are getting out of work, with many people returning on Monday. 

That means extra patrols from local and state police departments, including the Maryland Transportation Authority who respond to crashes on the Bay Bridge. The MTA says most are rear-end crashes because drivers are distracted.

"During these collisions, people are looking at their cellphones or looking at the beautiful scenery coming across the Bay Bridge," said Col. Joseph Scott, Chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Marylanders traveling by air are on the rise, despite total traveler numbers still down from pre-pandemic levels. 

Just in time for summer, the cruise lines will make their return to the Port of Baltimore about two months after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  

"With the Dali out of the channel, we can resume 24/7 operations for cruise lines and other cargo vessels," Lt. Governor Aruna Miller said.

If you're thinking about drinking and driving or boating under the influence, you may want to think again. 

The state is cracking down on impaired driving and boating with stricter penalties if you're caught in the act. 

Recently, Gov. Wes Moore signed a new packet of legislation to strengthen Noah's Law and remove loopholes.

"To both make whole Noah's Law by requiring ignition airlocks for persons on probation for drunk driving and increase the maximum penalties for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol," Kurt Erickson, President of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

Ocean City is preparing its summer kickoff with the planting of the first beach umbrella. 

The kickoff ceremony will also take a moment to remember those who served our country and gave their lives in the line of duty.

"We want everybody to remember what the real meaning of Memorial Day is as we honor those veterans and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan.

It's not just Memorial Day Weekend. On the opposite side of the Bay Bridge in Annapolis, it is Commissioning Week at the U.S. Naval Academy, which includes the commencement ceremony on Friday.

If you want to make it to your destination on time, you should depart early or leave extra time in case you get caught in traffic.

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