Traffic Planning for Rock and Roll

Traffic congestion marred the early year's of the annual music festival Bonnaroo in Tennessee. But now, advanced traffic planning has made the gridlock only a memory.
June 10, 2010, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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The weekend music event can draw up to 90,000 spectators, which means a lot of traffic on the interstate highways leading to tiny Manchester, Tennessee. But event organizers and locals have developed a plan to avoid congestion.

"Such big numbers usually lead to traffic nightmares, which is just what happened in Bonnaroo's first year, 2002. Festival organizers warned officials about a tide of tens of thousands of cars. But since a previous festival, Itchycoo Park, had been a flop, and Bonnaroo's marketing and ticket sales had all been online, with no traditional advertising, no one in town took its claims seriously. "Bonnaroo gave us fair warning, and we just laughed at them," Mr. Pennington said.

Since then the festival has worked out an extensive traffic plan with the state and local police, involving a temporary exit and dedicated festival lanes on Interstate 24, as well as a helicopter to guide the parking staff on the ground. "We got it down," said Steve Graves, the sheriff of Coffee County, which includes Manchester and has a population of about 52,000. "

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Published on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 in The New York Times
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