Air Fest traffic plan a coordinated effort with city authorities
by Nick Stubbs
The annual MacDill Air Fest is a much anticipated event, the traffic snarls that can go along with the show, to be held Saturday and Sunday April 9 and 10, are not.
Several steps were taken this year to help alleviate some of the problems seen at last year's event, including closer coordination with the Tampa Police Department, said Senior Master Sgt. Steve Mootz, 6th Security Forces Squadron. While Sergeant Mootz said there is no way to avoid the congestion such a large event creates, he is optimistic the plan in place will make the best of the situation.
Last year traffic backed up on Dale Mabry to I-275, he said. This year the crowd is expected to be larger but Tampa police will be monitoring from the air, beaming traffic photos to squad cars so officers can identify trouble spots.
In addition, a series of electronic signs will be set up along the routes to the base, flashing estimated wait times. Unlike last year, in which late arrivers waited hours only to be turned away due to overcrowding, this year the signs will signal when the base has been closed to traffic.
Sergeant Mootz said there have been concerns about the construction at Dale Mabry gate making matters worse, but the single lanes in and out now will be expanded to two in and two out by show time, he said.
The Dale Mabry Gate and MacDill Gate will be open for Air Fest traffic only. These two gates will open at 8 a.m. The Bayshore Gate will provide access to base-housing residents and MacDill employees. Due to the expected heavy volume of traffic going to and from the Air Fest, the wing will be forced to close some streets and parking lots, and re-route traffic. The Port Tampa gate will be closed to all traffic and should not be used except by those specifically authorized.
Major road and facility closures on base during Air Fest:
North Boundary from Kingfisher Street to CENTCOM Avenue: (From the front of the Main Exchange to the front of U.S. Central Command's building)
Zemke Avenue from Kingfisher Street to South Boundary: (The roadway along the rear of the Exchange/Commissary complex and U.S. Central Command's building)
During Air Fest, the Commissary and Main Exchange will be closed. Personnel going to and from the hospital will be required to use Bayshore Boulevard. Security Forces personnel posted at the traffic control points (major intersections) will not allow personnel or vehicles on or through closed areas or streets unless an emergency exists.
U.S. Central Command duty personnel: Personnel reporting for duty at U.S. CENTCOM from off the installation should enter the installation through the Bayshore Gate. You will be granted access to your parking areas after providing the traffic sentry with your identification credentials (U.S. CENTCOM identification card).
U.S. Special Operation Command duty personnel: Personnel reporting for duty at U.S. SOCOM from off the installation should enter the installation through the Bayshore Gate and turn west on Tampa Point Boulevard. You will be granted access to your respective parking areas after providing the traffic sentry with your identification credentials (U.S. SOCOM identification card).
Contact Sergeant Mootz at 828-0189 or Master Sgt. Arris Hill at 828-2811 for any questions or concerns involving Air Fest traffic.