Monday's Patriots Day holiday was anything but a day off for Gloucester police.
As folks from across the North Shore headed for city beaches, the ensuing traffic gridlocked the city solid for much of the day, from Atlantic Road back to Essex Avenue, and all of Route 128 in between.
The backup and traffic was accentuated by and caused at least a half-dozen accidents, including a seven-car tangle on the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge as people tried to make the most of the near 80-degree holiday temperatures.
The fact that the city's beaches and services don't officially open until Memorial Day Weekend didn't help much, officers said. With the beaches and parking areas closed, there was no one from the city to collect fees, or, more importantly, to direct and handle the traffic.
"What we try to do is get the gates open and let them (visitors) fend for themselves," Sgt. William Leanos said.
Opening the gates, though, doesn't solve the problem, Leanos added.
With cars parked illegally along roads and double-parked in beach parking lots, the department had to get some vehicles towed so emergency vehicles could get through if necessary.
Police responded to more than a half-dozen accidents and towed more than 20 vehicles, some from Atlantic Road, others from near Wingaersheek Beach.
The litany of accidents started at 6:33 a.m. when a car crashed into the guard rail at Blackburn Circle. The driver, from Haverhill, called a towing company to pick up the car.
Leanos said officers dealt with a seven-car pileup on the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge around 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, a Peabody woman told officers that her car was stopped at the Eastern Avenue traffic lights when she was sideswiped by a trailer truck heading toward Blackburn Circle. The accident left the woman's car with some damage on the driver's side rear, but police said they could not find or get to the truck because of a five-car accident at Blackburn Circle.
Neither of the multi-car accidents resulted in any injuries, according to police.
An alleged illegal U-Turn where Washington Street meets Grant Circle was blamed for another accident, and officers cited a woman for making the turn and not yielding to traffic coming to the rotary.
Another accident on Washington Street at 11:03 a.m. resulted in a transport to Addison Gilbert Hospital.
On top of the accidents, a myriad of illegally parked cars near Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches added to the traffic tieups in those areas, with Tally's called to tow vehicles from spaces clogging the parking lots and narrow streets.
"My guys are out straight," Leanos said. "And that doesn't include all the other calls they have to deal with."
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.