published Friday, May 24th, 2013

Map out your traffic tactics

Road Race, Greenville, S.C., 2012 USPRO Cycling Championships, May 28, 2012
Road Race, Greenville, S.C., 2012 USPRO Cycling Championships, May 28, 2012
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The hundreds of cyclists soon to be buzzing around the streets of downtown Chattanooga will make navigating through the heart of the city a little bit tricky.

The race is broken up into the downtown circuit, a 5.1-mile loop encompassing UTC, downtown and the North Shore, and the long circuit, which runs around Lookout Mountain via the Ochs and Scenic highways.

Much of downtown will be closed to through and cross traffic, so be prepared to build in a little extra travel time when you’re driving through the area.

Major road closures include Broad Street from 12th Street to 7th Street, Market Street from 12th Street to the North Shore, and Frazier Avenue between Market and the Veteran’s Bridge.

Becky Roberts, traffic engineering coordinator, said that while some traffic will be able to trickle across Broad and Market as the race allows, it’s smarter to steer clear. She said the best options are to use Riverfront Parkway, the interstate, Carter Street and Central Avenue.

“If you don’t have to go into the core of downtown, avoid it,” she said.

If crossing the course really is your only option, Roberts advises using major streets such as 4th, M.L. King and Georgia Avenue.

John Van Winkle, city traffic engineer, said vehicles trying to cross the course will have to wait either for large gaps in the cyclist packs or for the race caravan to pass.

The “race caravan” is the very first law enforcement vehicle to the last vehicle and all the cyclists in between. From the first vehicle to the last, it will take about 12 to 15 minutes to go by.

“So if you’re at an intersection waiting for this race to go by ... it’ll be about a 15-minute wait,” said Philip Grymes, executive director of Outdoor Chattanooga, which is helping to coordinate traffic control.

And for those stuck on the North Shore, Grymes advises taking River Street.

“River Street, that flows through [Coolidge Park], will be open. So you’ll still be able to access all the parking and you’ll be able to kind of slip behind the race that way,” Grymes said.

The eastern side of Veteran’s Bridge and the eastern side of Broad Street from 20th Street to Lookout Mountain will be open to two-way traffic.

Access to Lookout Mountain will be restricted to one-way traffic going up Ochs Highway and one-way traffic going down Scenic Highway. Cummings Highway will be closed from Scenic to Broad, so motorists will be diverted to Interstate 24.

For tourists wishing to visit some of Lookout Mountain’s highlights, there will be a free shuttle to Rock City, Ruby Falls and the upper Incline Railway Station. The shuttle will leave from the First Tennessee Pavilion at Finley Stadium every 30 minutes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In the gap between the men’s and women’s races will be the hand-cycling championship from 11:45 to 1:30 p.m. This will be concentrated in the downtown area and will allow traffic to flow down Broad Street and on Lookout Mountain without any delays.

The men’s race should wrap up around 5:45, at which point the cleanup begins.

“By 6 [p.m.], all the roads except for right in the downtown venue will be opening up or open,” Grymes said. “Probably by 8, it’ll be one block around the main venue.”

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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