State police say teamwork key to keep Speedway traffic flowing

ahancock@herald-leader.comJune 21, 2012 

  • NASCAR in Kentucky

    This month atKentucky Speedway in Sparta

    June 28: Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 (8 p.m.)

    June 29: Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300 (7:30 p.m.)

    June 30: Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m.)

SPARTA — Keep them moving.

That will be a key component of the traffic strategy Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Motor Speedway officials employ when NASCAR returns to the commonwealth next week.

After pouring more than $11 million into parking and traffic infrastructure, officials say last year's "Carmageddon" will not repeat itself.

"This year will no doubt be better than last year," Kentucky State Police Capt. Dean Hayes said as officials unveiled their plan Thursday on the track's infield.

The second running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 is set for Saturday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m. Last year's inaugural Sprint Cup visit to Sparta resulted in an hours-long pre-race traffic jam that saw many fans arrive late or never get into the race.

Hayes said teamwork among state police and Speedway officials is imperative. Their game plan centers around control and communication.

The first element is controlling moving cars by giving drivers somewhere to go and keep them moving, Hayes said. "If you can get 100,000 people out of here in three hours, why can't you get them in in 13?"

He explained that for drivers coming from the Cincinnati area and traveling on I-71, Exit 57 to Ky. 35 is the only way to get to the Speedway. If coming from Louisville and I-71 north, drivers can access the event from Exit 55 and then Speedway Boulevard.

At each exit, cones will be used to direct traffic. Trooper Michael Webb said the coning process is more efficient than troopers directing traffic.

To maximize flow, all lanes around the track will be used for inbound traffic. Hayes advised anyone not going to the Speedway to avoid the area on race day. "If someone would want to turn around, it would cause a problem," he said.

For parking, Speedway hired a consulting firm, Veterans Security Parking, that will have 300 parking attendants on site, double the amount from last year. Also, Kentucky State Police will have a greater role. There will be at least one trooper in each parking lot.

"We could've parked a lot more cars than we did last year so we're going to direct each car," Hayes said.

Trooper Brad Arterburn said communication will also be key. Using radio station 1620-AM and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, traffic updates will be available to the public every 30 minutes.

When the race ends, officers will hold traffic until 30 minutes afterward in order to allow pedestrian traffic to disperse. Those in the infield will be held for 90 minutes.

Webb also shared general traffic suggestions for travelers. He advised fans to leave early to avoid delays, keep in mind that delays are possible just as with any major public sporting event, be patient, not participate in aggressive driving and be mindful of pedestrians.

"The necessary changes have definitely improved access to the track, reducing traffic congestion and delay," Webb said.

Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said he's no longer worrying about the traffic plan. "We're really confident and we can't wait for people to see what we've been doing," he said.

Simendinger also said that ticket sales were on the rise. After selling more than 100,000 tickets to the inaugural race, Simendinger said the goal is to sell out again.

"There may or may not be a few empty seats, but there will definitely be a huge crowd."

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