Road closings, challenging pop-up parking and traffic jams are just as much a part of the Kentucky Derby experience as mint juleps and huge hats.
Parking on-site at Churchill Downs is probably not an option for most Derby-goers. Those spots are reserved and sold in advance, according to the racetrack’s website.
Off-site parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center is available and can be paid for Derby Day. Stadium parking is $20, and expo center parking is $8.
A round-trip shuttle from the expo center and the stadium will run from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., but it will cost an additional $15.
Derby-goers can avoid the parking hassleby hiring Uber to get to and from the track. The Uber app allows users to hire a private driver and set a route. During peak times, “dynamic pricing” might push the price of a ride higher than a tradition cab, depending on the amount of drivers available. Patrons using Uber will have to pay a $1.50 event fee that is automatically added to fares, according to Uber’s website.
The ride-sharing app and Churchill Downs announced a partnership earlier in the week to set up five marked pick-up locations around the Downs. The stops are designed to avoid Derby traffic. Casey Verkamp, general manager of Uber Kentucky, said in a statement Tuesday that the partnership would last through the 2016 spring meet.
Ryan Jordan, general manager of Churchill Downs, said the app is a safe and reliable way to get the track, with the added benefit of having Derby-goers “leave their cars at home.”
A third parking option is taking a chance with one of the many private lawns or lots converted to parking around the perimeter of Churchill Downs.
Every year, there is fierce competition for such yard and lot parking. Those selling the spaces advertise their spots on spinning signs; slots can cost $5 to $50. But proximity can lead to boxed-in vehicles.
Curtis Newman charges $30 to $40 for cars to park on his Sixth Street lot during Oaks and Derby.
"I'm not greedy or anything; we do okay," he said.
There’s a kinship among those doing business, he said.
"It is like a neighborhood reunion," said Newman, who has lived in the neighborhood and parked cars since he was 8 years old.
Still, the practice isn’t conflict-free.
Katie Meyer of Louisville took the risk on private parking with her mother for racing on Thursday, also known as “Thurby.” Meyer paid $20 to park in a yard.
“They asked for our keys so they could move the car in case a person needed to get out that we were blocking in,” Meyer said. “We did not feel comfortable doing that.”
The owners found a spot so Meyer and her mother wouldn’t have to leave keys. She recommended caution.
“The house literally next door was $30, so when you see people soliciting parking, you have to ask around a bit before picking one,” she said.
Portions of a number of roads and some ramps of the Watterson Expressway, Interstate 264, will be closed for traffic management in the hours before and after the Derby. A full list is available at the city of Louisville’s website.
Tessa Lighty contributed to this article.
Uber pick-up locations
▪ Southwest: Dollar Store, Taylor Boulevard and Longfield Drive
▪ West: Gas Station, Taylor Boulevard and Central Avenue
▪ Northwest: Diner, Rodman Street and Winkler Avenue
▪ Northeast: Gas Station, Winkler Avenue and S. 4th Street
▪ East: Shopping Center, Central Avenue and S. 3rd Street
7 a.m.-11 p.m. (both days)
▪ Fourth Street from Heywood Avenue to Oakdale Avenue
Restricted Traffic (permitted vehicles only)
7 a.m.-11 p.m.
▪ Central Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Floyd Street
▪ Ninth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
▪ Ninth Street from Central Avenue to the alleyway south of Homeview Drive
▪ Homeview Drive from Bohannon Avenue to Ninth Street
▪ Warren Avenue from Thornberry Avenue to Homeview Drive
▪ Bohannon Avenue north from Homeview Drive to turnaround (just south of Central Avenue)
▪ Racine Avenue from Bohannon Avenue to Ninth Street
▪ Alleyway just south of Homeview Drive from Warren Avenue to Ninth Street
5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
▪ Southern Parkway will be rerouted — all four lanes southbound from Oakdale to Woodlawn. No northbound traffic
▪ Third and Eastern Parkway — southbound traffic will be rerouted to eastbound Eastern Parkway