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Seminar, Rush Hour Combine To Create Traffic Headaches Around Arena

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RALEIGH — Traffic headed to "Success 2000" was an unsuccessful millenial mess. Name a road anywhere close to the Entertainment and Sports Arena, and it was jammed, really jammed.

Traffic was bumper-to-bumper during the combination of morning rush hour, and people attending the seminar from Interstate 440 all the way to I-40 West.

Kimberly Ulasewich attended the "Success 2000" seminar, and was caught in the middle of the traffic hassle.

"It was just bombarded," Ulasewich said. "We sat in traffic for a good 30 to 45 minutes and never really moved."

Dave Olsen, arena manager, says the plan to handle the onslaught of traffic worked out, but the timing of being in the morning and everybody coming at one time creates hassles.

"We filled the parking lots as expeditiously as we could," Olsen said. "We diverted the traffic to the adjacent parking lots at Carter-Finley as they started to fill."

Colonel Richard Holden says the State Highway Patrol was not asked for help, but they stepped in anyway.

"We had not been requested, but as soon as we saw there were some problems there, we felt like we had a responsibility to try to get out and assist," Holden said.

The patrol called a meeting of Raleigh Police, arena management, and DOT engineers. It was the first time all the parties have met to discuss arena traffic troubles.

They came out with a plan to get people home from "Success 2000." However, no long-term plan was reached for arena gridlock.

Steve McLaurin of McLaurin Parking Company solves special event traffic problems for a living, like at Carter-Finley Stadium.

He says there is an answer to arena traffic and he has approached Gale Force twice about working with them.

"The traffic can be absorbed in a timely and safe fashion," McLaurin said. "We just reached out to indicate that this is what we did and we would enjoy helping and they were very courteous."

"It was simply that they wanted to do everything in-house. That was their plan," McLaurin said.

The State Highway Patrol has put tens of thousands of N.C. State fans in Carter-Finley Stadium for years. They usually use 50 troopers for that job.

For Tuesday's seminar, the Raleigh Police Department only used eight officers.

Major Otis Hinton of the Raleigh Police Department said he believed eight was a good number.

"Considering the flow of traffic, I think that was sufficient," Hinton said.

Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer feels arena officials are working the traffic issue out and the city is sharing the responsibility of it being solved.

"We all have a vested interest at stake and an obligation, if you will, to make that area work and we will," Fetzer said. "It's just going to take a little more than the first two weeks."

After the lack of success with "Success 2000" traffic, arena officials hope a lesson is learned, and there is a better plan for the next event.


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