Local News

Officials look into U2 traffic back-ups

Posted October 5, 2009
Updated October 17, 2011

— 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.

Officials look into U2 traffic back-ups Officials say U2 parking was available

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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • killerkestrel Oct 12, 2009

    One limited access lane can handle 2000 cars per hour. Add in stop lights, and that lane handles about 1000 cars per hour, depending on what percentage of green time it gets. So to handle 11,000 cars, you would need about 5 lanes to empty the place in two hours. You would need close to 10 lanes to empty the lots in one hour.

  • MyKidRox Oct 6, 2009

    It is very difficult for me to have any sympathy for folks that tried to park at 6:00pm or later. My husband and I attended the last two concerts held in Charlotte and the last one was downtown, parking was very far away from the venue and you had to walk past the seedy, bus station and an alley. It was all worth the $20.00 we paid for that parking in 2005 just as it was for this past weekend! As for the parking situation here, it was just common sense. The stadium accomodates 60,000 or so. Chances are, you're going to have LOTS of traffic. We arrived at 5:00, parked just steps away from the entrance and left without any issues. And we had a 4 year in tow. It's all in the planning...

  • jprime Oct 6, 2009

    We got there late around 6:30 and still had no problems getting in. We were on 440 coming from north raleigh, to hillsborough, to trinity. No problems at all. Saw the full opening act with time to get food first. It didnt take more than 20 minutes to get out of the area either.

    I don't see how people had issues.

  • intuit Oct 6, 2009

    Had a great time at the show. Got there about 3pm and had a blast tailgating with the other 30 folks that made it just fine with us. Who gets to a concert 15 min. before it starts!?

  • andyasumtneer Oct 6, 2009

    This is worth reposting (thanks to myself):

    Let's see, I have 2 $95 tickets (a total of $221.80 after ticketmaster's lovely overcharge, that's right $15.90 per ticket) to the U2 Concert. I bought these tickets in April, so I really am an avid U2 fan. The day of the event comes. Maybe, just maybe, I should get there early. I get there at 5:30 PM, and there is still plenty of parking available. I enter the stadium at 5:45 PM. GREAT SHOW, btw. And because I am an avid U2 fan, I go on their website, see which songs they will be playing, and when the last song is playing, I leave for my car and get out of the parking lot in less than 5 minutes.

    Moral of the story, folks, if you KNOW that there are going to be 60,000+ people at ONE event in ONE location, you do NOT arrive 10 minutes before the concert! This is not Carter Finley's or Raleigh's or NCDOT's or the Highway Patrol's fault. This is the fault of people NOT using common sense! ALWAYS ASSUME the worst!

  • pthfan22 Oct 6, 2009

    After paying close to $100.00 per ticket it seems silly to fuss about going early to a concert. Pack up a cooler, and go tailgate before the show.

  • commonsense4 Oct 6, 2009

    "The problem is the people directing traffic trying to funnel the lanes down. This is typical over control of traffic as evidenced all over Raleigh."

    I agree with the over doing the traffic control - I had a post that they didn't put up explaining this and how any event in this state - even out at Greensboro have horrible control over a mile out from the event that just slows everything down and causes chaos. I'm from NY where there is traffic everywhere but major events have less traffic than here even with double the amount of people sometimes. They don't align you into cone-bordered lanes when you're not even close to the arena yet. The same goes for the timing they have on all the traffic lights - especially all over the triangle. It is as if someone tried to find ways to make the traffic as bad as possible. This state is doing a great job of that.

  • suzcoker Oct 6, 2009

    Can anyone explain to me why there were no shuttle and/or park & ride options? Personally, I think it's because the parking powers wanted to force people to pay that outrageous $20 fee. As for leaving early, most of us don't need to be at a concert 3 hours before it starts. I've been to lots of U2 shows and have never had so much trouble with traffic and parking. Also, those of you who like to preach to those of us who don't need to sit in a parking lot or stadium for hours before a show, please let me know how our personal irresponsibility kept us stuck in our parking place for 2 hours after the show because the parking lot attendants had already taken our $20 coming in and left the hundreds of cars to get out on their own. Or, maybe the answer is that we should have left the show before the first encore... U2 put on a great show, but NCSU and/or McLaurin screwed up the parking situation horribly -- and made a fortune on it.

  • HadEnough Oct 6, 2009

    commonsense4 - Edwards mill road at the RBC center is designed perfectly for that kind of traffic. The problem is the people directing traffic trying to funnel the lanes down. This is typical over control of traffic as evidenced all over Raleigh.

  • pthfan22 Oct 6, 2009

    There are also numerous ways to get to the RBC Center, Carter Finley and the Fair Grounds. You don't have to get there by I40. There are also numerous ways to check on traffic. Computers, cell phones, radio......way before you actually get to there. Take some personal responsibility.