Police, DelDOT get up to speed for Dover NASCAR traffic

DOVER — Preparation is the key to enjoying a relaxing weekend on the highways and roads surrounding Dover International Speedway as 60,000 or so NASCAR fans prepare to invade the city for a weekend of racing action.

Officials from the Delaware Department of Transportation have laid out their plans designed to make the driving experience go as smoothly as possible around the city as NASCAR drivers will race at Dover Friday through Sunday, culminating with the Citizen Soldier 400, the third stop of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Gene Donaldson, operations manager at DelDOT’s Transportation Management Center, anticipates a busy – but well organized – weekend.

“Anytime there’s 60,000 people in one place and there’s other people selling things near the highway and everything else, it’s a big event,” Mr. Donaldson said. “It might not be like it was when it was 100,000 people years ago, but it’s still a big crowd.”

RACE WEEKEND TRAFFIC TIPS • Real time race traffic and parking information will be available on DelDOT’s Smartphone application. The DelDOT App is available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, and can be downloaded for free. Search for “DelDOT” at the Apple and Google Play stores. With the DelDOT App you can view real time traffic cameras, travel times, delays, advisories, listen to WTMC 1380 AM travel advisory radio and more. • The real time travel information is also available at www.DelDOT.gov • Due to special routes being designed just for Saturday and Sunday races, motorists are encouraged to tune to WTMC 1380 AM and to read the variable message board signs surrounding the Dover area.

RACE WEEKEND TRAFFIC TIPS
• Real time race traffic and parking information will be available on DelDOT’s Smartphone application. The DelDOT App is available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, and can be downloaded for free. Search for “DelDOT” at the Apple and Google Play stores. With the DelDOT App you can view real time traffic cameras, travel times, delays, advisories, listen to WTMC 1380 AM travel advisory radio and more.
• The real time travel information is also available at www.DelDOT.gov
• Due to special routes being designed just for Saturday and Sunday races, motorists are encouraged to tune to WTMC 1380 AM and to read the variable message board signs surrounding the Dover area.

Mr. Donaldson and his Transportation Management Center staff will work in conjunction with Dover Police and Delaware State Police to monitor traffic in and around the speedway.

In order to keep traffic moving around the “Monster Mile,” the TMC and DelDOT’s Traffic Section will work from their mobile Command Post at Dover International Speedway with technicians monitoring traffic inside and outside the racetrack.

DelDOT will keep an eye on major intersections for proper signal progression, place temporary signage and assist with any crashes or congestion problems.

“We’re not overly concerned about NASCAR traffic,” said Greg Layton, spokesman for DelDOT. “For one thing, attendance is down, so there are fewer cars on the road. For another, we have lots of experience with traffic management around races and Firefly. We don’t expect any problems.”

Mr. Donaldson said the more that motorists know about trouble spots and times, the better off they are going to be.

“For motorists, it’s basically understanding that the area from Route 1 Exit 104 down to the racetrack and Route 13 from Scarborough Road south and the area of the track, we anticipate delays from early in the morning until about noon, especially on Sunday,” he said.

“Normally, most people are in the track [on Sunday] by noon or 12:30, so that’s the timeline. Because the race is [in October] this year we don’t believe that beach traffic will be as big of an impact.”

Most of the alterations to driving routes around the speedway will take place on Sunday.

That is when the main entrance into Dover International Speedway off U.S. 13 will be closed for all southbound traffic when the parking lot at the racetrack is filled.

Leipsic Road will also be closed to through traffic once the race is finished on Sunday afternoon. Traffic exiting the speedway is expected to peak from between 5:30 and 8 p.m.

A partnership with many groups, including the Towne Point Civic Association, has helped DelDOT establish a designated exit route at the conclusion of Saturday and Sunday’s races.

Vehicles parked in Lot 1 on the south side of the speedway will be permitted to exit to Buckson Drive onto Townsend Boulevard and the signalized intersection. Once at the traffic signal, motorists will be able to turn southbound only.

It’s that kind of cooperation that helps makes things run easier, Mr. Donaldson said.

“We’ve learned a lot from doing NASCAR races for a lot of years,” he said. “We meet almost once a month for NASCAR races and the Firefly Music Festival. The same people usually help out and we learn as much as we can from each event.”

Race fans who want to dodge the traffic are encouraged to park at the Blue Hen Corporate Center, located at 655 South Bay Road in Dover, on Sunday and take the Race Express bus shuttle service to and from the race.

The Race Express shuttle service costs $20 per vehicle and avoids race-day traffic.

The ride to the track takes around 12 minutes and the service begins at 8 a.m. and is available until one hour after the race.

There is a similar Race Express shuttle offered from the Christiana Mall Park & Ride in northern Delaware just off I-95.

The bus service will begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday with 800 seats available. The cost per person is $12 round-trip.

“If people plan their trips around the [event] schedule and allow themselves ample time there shouldn’t be a lot of problems,” Mr. Donaldson said. “One of the biggest things people need to understand is we that we have a significant amount of pedestrians around the area of the track.

“Just stay alert, watch for road signs and be patient.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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