The 18th annual Bonnaroo is right around the corner. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Tennessee Highway Patrol releases their traffic plans and the Coffee County Sheriff Department has a plan in place as well.
Though he doesn’t know the exact amount of vehicles to expect, Chief Deputy Frank Watkins believes there will be a similar crowd size to last year – around 60,000 people. Bonnaroo reported on Thursday, May 30 that the last tier of general admission tickets were nearly sold out, so the crowd number could be larger than what Watkins expects.
After 17 years of dealing with crowd sizes this big and larger, the department has the traffic plan down to a science.
“We are going to be pushing the use of exit 112 off I-24 this year to…try to loosen up traffic in town,” Watkins explained.
The TDOT Region Two Community Relations Officer Jennifer Flynn provided further information in a press release.
“Bonnaroo will officially open its gates on Wednesday, June 12 at 8 p.m. to allow adequate time for vehicles to enter the general admission campgrounds. Tennessee State Troopers will be on-the-job 24 hours a day, beginning Wednesday evening, patrolling on the ground and by air.
TDOT HELP units will assist with traffic during the festival.
The following steps beginning Wednesday, June 12 through Monday, June 17, all according to TDOT’s statement:
• Efforts will be concentrated on keeping I-24 traffic flowing
• Exit 111 (SR 55) will be used as the main festival exit. Exits 97, 105, 112 (temporary exit on westbound side only), 117 and 127 are alternate exits if congestion occurs 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 6 a.m. on Wednesday, June 12 through 7 p.m. on Monday, June 17
• 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, allowing 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 for traffic updates or visit the TDOT website at www.tn.gov/tdot for information on alternate routes. Get the latest traffic information and live streaming SmartWay traffic cameras at www.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.
The sheriff’s department will be working with the Manchester Police Department, TDOT and THP to ensure smooth and safe travels for everyone.
“It seems like we improve each year – after Bonnaroo, we do a debriefing to make it better,” Watkins explained.
A helicopter will be monitoring traffic, parking and gates as well.
Gates for general admission campground will open at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12. The VIP Campgrounds open at 7 a.m. on Thursday, June 13. Day parking will open at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
All campgrounds close at 12 p.m. on Monday, June 17.
The times are subject to change due to traffic.
Like last year, local law enforcement will be all hands on deck for the festival.
The bag policy is similar to last year for Centeroo and the main venue. Clear bags made of clear plastic, clear vinyl, or clear pvc which do not exceed 20 inches by 15 inches by 9 inches, Single pocket drawstring bags up to 18 inches, a waist pack, fanny packs, or similar small clutch bags and empty hydration packs with a gear capacity of 2.5L/150 cubic inches with no more than two front pockets are allowed on the premise. Clear plastic zip-top bags (up to one gallon) are allowed as well.
No food or drinks (with the exception of water and small snacks), selfie sticks, go pro sticks or tripods, outside alcohol, chairs that sit higher than 1 foot off the ground, and totems made of wood of heavier metal, flag poles or heavy sticks are not allowed in Centeroo.
These rules do not apply to the campgrounds.
Bonnaroo security will be conducting car searches again this year at each gate.