TDOT, troopers prepare for Bonnaroo

Staff Reports • Jun 5, 2018 at 5:55 PM

NASHVILLE –The annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival will kick off Thursday in Manchester. 

Since its beginning in 2002, the four-day, multi-stage event continues to be one of the most popular live music festivals in the country, attracting thousands of attendees. To fully enjoy the varied lineup of performers and musical styles that Bonnaroo has to offer, festivalgoers from across the country camp out on a 700-acre Middle Tennessee farm, making it their temporary home for four days.  As in years past, tens of thousands of music lovers are expected to attend the 2018 Bonnaroo festival, which kicks off Thursday and will wind down Sunday.

During the Bonnaroo Festival, the area in and around Manchester sees increased traffic volume as festivalgoers make their way into the festival site. As Manchester prepares to welcome a multitude of visitors, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol will gear up for the extra traffic expected in the area. TDOT and troopers will work closely with Manchester police, Coffee County sheriff’s deputies and festival promoters to keep traffic moving on Interstate 24 while also getting Bonnaroo attendees to their destination.

“TDOT has once again coordinated with our partners at THP and other agencies to ensure safe, efficient travel during the Bonnaroo festival,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “The main objective is to keep through traffic moving smoothly on I 24 while getting festivalgoers safely into and out of the Bonnaroo site.  Because of advance planning, we feel certain that we can successfully minimize traffic delays throughout the weekend as we have in past years.”

This year, Bonnaroo will officially open all its gates Wednesday at 8 p.m. to allow more time for vehicles to enter the campgrounds. State troopers will be on the job 24 hours a day, beginning Wednesday evening, patrolling on the ground and by air.  Also, drivers should keep in mind if they need the assistance of a state trooper while traveling anywhere in Tennessee, they can dial *847 from a cellphone. They will be automatically connected to the nearest THP dispatch office, and the operator will send a state trooper to their location.

“The No. 1 goal of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is to reduce traffic-related incidents and fatalities,” said THP Col. Dereck Stewart. “I have emphasized a statewide priority to our captains the importance of working closely with TDOT and our public safety partners. So think twice if you are planning to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, because troopers and local law enforcement will be looking for you. Always wear your seat belt and do not drive distracted. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is committed more than ever to reducing crashes and saving lives on Tennessee roadways.”

During Bonnaroo 2017, troopers logged nearly 6,240 man-hours, worked six traffic crashes and wrote 1,066 citations.  

TDOT HELP units will assist with traffic management during the festival and aid any motorists who require assistance. In addition to having HELP trucks on-site, TDOT and other agencies will take the following steps from Wednesday through Monday:

• efforts will be concentrated on keeping I-24 traffic flowing.

• exit 111 at State Route 55 will be used as the main festival exit. Exits 97, 105, 112, 117 and 127 are alternate exits if congestion happens on the interstate.

• TDOT maintenance units will be posted throughout the festival region, and maintenance personnel will be on call all weekend.

• TDOT will provide variable message signs to warn drivers of delays.

• there will be no construction-related lane closures on I-24 near the Bonnaroo festival area between Wednesday at 6 a.m. through Monday at 7 p.m.

• median crossovers will be guarded to prevent motorists from parking in the crossovers and blocking emergency vehicles.

• festival traffic will be kept in the right lane and/or on the shoulder of the interstate, to allow through traffic to utilize the left travel lane unimpeded.

• emergency vehicles will use county roads that will be kept at low volume.

• Bonnaroo promoters issued early news releases to the trucking industry and other sources to alert the traveling public to festival times, location and alternate routes.

• temporary communication towers are in place to improve emergency communications.

During the festival, motorists should call 511 from any mobile or landline phone for traffic updates or visit tn.gov/tdot where they can also find information on alternate routes. From a desktop or mobile device, get the latest traffic information and live streaming SmartWay traffic cameras at tnsmartway.com/traffic. TDOT is also on Twitter. For statewide traffic tweets, follow TN511 or for regional traffic information follow Nashville511, Chattanooga511, Memphis511 and Knoxville511. 

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