Officials look into U2 traffic back-ups
Posted October 5, 2009
Updated October 17, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Officials said traffic back-ups for Saturday’s U2 concert in Raleigh were caused by a disproportionate percentage of concertgoers coming from the west.
The crowds clogged Interstate 40 and then Edwards Mill Road, which led to North Carolina State University’s Carter-Finley Stadium.
“We had to close that off cause we’d filled everything on that side of the stadium and all the way around the RBC Center by 6:30 p.m.,” said Steve McLaurin, whose company was hired to manage the parking situation.
McLaurin said the state Highway Patrol began to divert traffic to other areas around the stadium, including roadways that McLaurin said had very little traffic.
State Department of Transportation officials said they are looking into why electronic message boards on Interstate 40 did not alert drivers to use alternate routes.
The Highway Patrol said they did the best job they could under the circumstances.
“What we feel like in this particular case, there were some opportunities as far as parking that were not utilized for the event,” Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.
The state Department of Agriculture made 1,800 parking spaces available for the show at the state fairgrounds. Officials said N.C. State did not ask for more spaces.
McLaurin said they had more than 11,000 parking spaces available at the venue and all but 55 were filled.
“We had enough parking cause we got everyone who had tried to park in by the time traffic ceased and we had a few spaces left,” McLaurin said.
Some concertgoers who were stuck in traffic said they were told no parking was available.
Carrie White spent $250 on U2 360° tour tickets for her husband’s birthday. She said they were stuck in traffic for three hours and were then told no parking was available.
"One of the state troopers told us, ‘Too late. All lots are full. Go home and see you next year,’” White said.
McLaurin said he can’t explain why some people were told there was no parking available. “If they went home that was their option. I understand they were frustrated,” he said.
On WRAL's online interactive community GOLO, one person wrote: "When an event for 60,000 people is scheduled at a certain time, about 60,000 people are going to show up to that venue at that time. Did they expect people to come in shifts?"
Another person wrote, "I was very disappointed with what I witnessed last evening. I will never participate in any event at Carter-Finley Stadium or RBC Center in Raleigh AGAIN! I have seen many concerts over the years and the way this (traffic) was handled was a joke."
Join WRAL viewers talking about traffic problems at the concert.
Field repair begins Tuesday
U2’s massive stage sat on top of the turf at Carter-Finley Stadium.
On Tuesday morning, crews will begin installed new sod on the field. University officials said the process will not have an impact on Saturday’s football game against Duke University.
An N.C. State spokesperson said concert organizer Live Nation set aside money to pay for the repairs.