Firefly organizers, DelDOT confident Dover’s ready for expected 90,000

Gene Donaldson, of the DelDOT Transportation Management Center, said he expects the large traffic associated with the Firefly and big Barrel Music Festivals to move smoothly. He added  his crews will be ready to handle any unforeseen problems that might occur. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Gene Donaldson, of the DelDOT Transportation Management Center, said he expects the large traffic associated with the Firefly and big Barrel Music Festivals to move smoothly. He added his crews will be ready to handle any unforeseen problems that might occur. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — The Firefly Music Festival is known as, among other things, the event that once brought severe traffic gridlock to the area.

It’s also now recognized for smooth travel and ever-improving conditions for both festival-goers and local residents alike.

Organizers like the second view a whole lot more, and have worked for a year making sure the five days in Dover remain a pleasurable experience for all.

Michael Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway, during press conference Wednesday on upcoming Firefly and Bib Barrel Music festivals. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Michael Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway, during press conference Wednesday on upcoming Firefly and Bib Barrel Music festivals. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

With 90,000 or more music lovers visiting Dover June 18-21, all those with stake in the fourth annual festival’s success are evaluating every possibility of problems while also adding ways to bolster what’s been an effective and improving system the past couple years.

This time around, there’s also the Big Barrel Country Music Festival that may attract up to 35,000 attendees June 26-28 at the same Woodlands area near Dover International Speedway.

Organizers said the two festivals could generate an economic impact up to $100 million throughout the city, county, state and region, so many entities have teamed up to ensure that continues next week and in the future.

Dover International Speedway CEO and President Michael Tatoian said the events produce “wonderful worldwide visibility … (and) does make our state a destination place.”

Added Mr. Tatoian, the goal is for visitors to “come in and out of our city without a lot of angst” and not have local residents’ everyday lives disrupted too much.

At a Wednesday morning pre-event media briefing, the host Delaware Department of Transportation outlined the plan for smooth-running traffic, following last year’s success, while tweaking the system at the same time.

Greg Bostrom addresses media during press conference Wednesday on upcoming Firefly and Big Barrel Music Festivals. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Greg Bostrom addresses media during press conference Wednesday on upcoming Firefly and Big Barrel Music Festivals. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Keeping the patterns moving is a collaborative action, and Red Frog Events Music festival director Greg Bostrom outlined some improvements to this year’s proceedings:

• There’s an expanded arrival option now available, with 24-hour-a-day entry beginning noon Wednesday for Premiere Tent/RV pass holders. All other camping pass holders will be admitted starting at 6 a.m. June 18.

• Also, 12,000 feet of new roads within the grounds will expand internal movement efficiency.

• A new staff lot will take 1,500 cars a day out of the main gathering area.

• Added lighting and shuttles will make for a safer area around Persimmon Tree Lane, a key travel point for festival-goers, pedestrians and local residents.

• Entry into lots is projected to be 30 seconds a vehicle, several seconds faster than last year’s average.

• A will-call center will be positioned at Delaware Technical Community College in north Dover, and accessible via Scarborough Road.

Here they come

When DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan addressed the media, she first took a light approach and noted that she eagerly anticipated Firefly involvement when taking the cabinet position. When the Big Barrel came along, the secretary was again pleased to take part.

Then she learned the events came on consecutive weeks and figuratively gulped.

Seriously, though, DelDOT’s leader thinks all signs point to another finely executed plan thanks to cooperation and expertise of all involved.

The secretary also called upon the media to distribute traffic-related information as well.

“We can do it, we can absolutely do it,” Secretary Cohan said.

Jennifer Cohan and Gene Donaldson during press conference Wednesday on preparations to handle heavy volume of traffic expected for upcoming Firefly and Big Barrel Music Festivals.  (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Jennifer Cohan and Gene Donaldson during press conference Wednesday on preparations to handle heavy volume of traffic expected for upcoming Firefly and Big Barrel Music Festivals. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

The secretary then introduced DelDOT’s Gene Donaldson, the head of traffic management who will operate from the Transportation

Management Center near Smyrna with the benefit of a multiple array of cameras and instantaneous information available on how the traffic is flowing.

Mr. Donaldson was labeled “Sir” by the secretary, perhaps a quick quip regarding the upcoming arrival of Sir Paul McCartney as the big ticket Firefly act. If the traffic plan goes as expected under Mr. Donaldson’s direction, he’ll likely be the star performer in the organizers’ eyes.

Addressing an assembled gathering of print, radio and television journalists, Mr. Donaldson said he and everyone involved with the undertaking — DelDOT, Delaware State Police, Dover Police Department, Dover International Speedway and Red Frog Events — were up to the task.

The Traffic Management Committee, formed 15 years ago to respond to NASCAR weekend concerns, has added two large music festivals to its docket and continues to evolve with each passing event.

“We’re now friends,” Mr. Donaldson said of all the entities meeting on a monthly basis.

“We talk to each other, sometimes we grumble at each other, but we’ll get there.”

There are contingency plans for unpredictable and unwanted lousy weather, and parking lot venues can be shifted to accommodate wet conditions, Mr. Donaldson said.

From the north, south

With 70 percent of traffic anticipated to arrive from the north, campers and RVs are encouraged to take De1. 1 to Exit 104, head south on U.S. 13 and turn left onto Leipsic Road. Mr. Donaldson said computerized traffic signals will be adjusted to facilitate the best stop-and-go patterns.

From the south, visitors will take U.S. 13 northbound and make a right turn at Jefferic Boulevard.

So-called “day trippers” — those coming for a single day and not staying overnight — should go the Delaware International Speedway main entrance, where a nearby area is reserved for day parking.

Leipsic and Persimmon Tree roads near Dover International Speedway will be closed to through traffic from 10 a.m. June 19 to the night of June 21. All roads will be reopened when the festival ends.

An estimated 10,000 to 11,000 attendees will arrive daily, planners said, in approximately 6,000 vehicles and peaking on Friday and Saturday, officials said. That’s far less day parking than a NASCAR event, they added.

While locals could limit traffic by avoiding the area unless necessary, organizers said there will be less traffic on U.S. 13 than when a NASCAR race is ongoing.

Multiple times during his presentation, Mr. Donaldson pushed the effectiveness of DelDOT’s free smartphone application at Google Play and Apple Store for immediate traffic conditions. He pointed to the wealth of information available he had in his hand through his phone.

Other sources for achieving the best travel possible are WTMC-AM 1380 radio, at www.DelDOT.gov, Facebook and Twitter.

According to fireflyfestival.com, 3,500 “last chance passes” remain as of Wednesday afternoon. The four-day pass costs $349.

Firefly Traffic Plans Following are traffic plans for the Firefly Music Festival June 18-21 in Dover: • Leispic and Persimmon Tree roads in the vicinity of Dover International Speedway will be closed to through traffic from 10 a.m. June 19 to the festival’s close on June 21. • Camping/RV processing will be located at Dover International Speedway Lot,  located south of the speedway, and bordered by U.S. 13, Leipsic Road and Plaza drive. Traffic from the south will enter from U.S. 13 through Jefferic Boulevard and from the north using Leipsic Road. • Campers/RVs from the north will use Del. 1 to Exit 104 to U.S. 13 to a left turn on Leipsic Road. Should traffic conditions warrant, Exit 104 and Exit 98 from Del. 1 will be close, and traffic will be directed to Exit 95 to Bay Road onto U.S. 13 north to Lot 1 via Jefferic Boulevard. • Traffic from the south will use U.S. 13 north to a right turn on Jefferic Boulevard into Lot 1 where separate camping RV/processing lanes will be established. • Once each vehicle is processed in Lot 1, it will exit at the east end of Lot 1 back to Leipsic Road to its assigned camping area. • For festival patrons not camping at the speedway, daily parking is available in speedway parking lots. Daily parking lots are accessible from the main entrance from U.S. 13. • “Will Call” passes for Firefly will be processed at Delaware Technical Community College in north Dover and accessible via Scarborough Road. Firefly patrons are encouraged to have their “will call” passes before being processed for camping. Check in times Premiere Tent/RV pass holders: noon Wednesday through 6 a.m. June 18. All other camping pass holders: 6 a.m. June 18 at 6 a.m. to noon June 21. Information available Traffic information is available on the Delaware Department of Transportation’s smartphone application. The free DelDOT app can be downloaded through Google Play and the Apple store by searching for “DelDOT.” WTMC-AM (1380) also isavailable through the DelDOT App. Real-time traffic information is available at www.DelDOT.gov, along with Facebook (DelawareDOT) and Twitter (DelawareDOT).

Firefly Traffic Plans
Following are traffic plans for the Firefly Music Festival June 18-21 in Dover:
• Leispic and Persimmon Tree roads in the vicinity of Dover International Speedway will be closed to through traffic from 10 a.m. June 19 to the festival’s close on June 21.
• Camping/RV processing will be located at Dover International Speedway Lot, located south of the speedway, and bordered by U.S. 13, Leipsic Road and Plaza drive. Traffic from the south will enter from U.S. 13 through Jefferic Boulevard and from the north using Leipsic Road.
• Campers/RVs from the north will use Del. 1 to Exit 104 to U.S. 13 to a left turn on Leipsic Road. Should traffic conditions warrant, Exit 104 and Exit 98 from Del. 1 will be close, and traffic will be directed to Exit 95 to Bay Road onto U.S. 13 north to Lot 1 via Jefferic Boulevard.
• Traffic from the south will use U.S. 13 north to a right turn on Jefferic Boulevard into Lot 1 where separate camping RV/processing lanes will be established.
• Once each vehicle is processed in Lot 1, it will exit at the east end of Lot 1 back to Leipsic Road to its assigned camping area.
• For festival patrons not camping at the speedway, daily parking is available in speedway parking lots. Daily parking lots are accessible from the main entrance from U.S. 13.
• “Will Call” passes for Firefly will be processed at Delaware Technical Community College in north Dover and accessible via Scarborough Road. Firefly patrons are encouraged to have their “will call” passes before being processed for camping.
Check in times
Premiere Tent/RV pass holders: noon Wednesday through 6 a.m. June 18.
All other camping pass holders: 6 a.m. June 18 at 6 a.m. to noon June 21.
Information available
Traffic information is available on the Delaware Department of Transportation’s smartphone application. The free DelDOT app can be downloaded through Google Play and the Apple store by searching for “DelDOT.”
WTMC-AM (1380) also isavailable through the DelDOT App.
Real-time traffic information is available at www.DelDOT.gov, along with Facebook (DelawareDOT) and Twitter (DelawareDOT).

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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