Since 2002, the small Middle Tennessee city of Manchester in Coffee County has hosted one of the most popular live music events in the country - the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Held on a 700‑acre farm, the festival is a four-day, multi-stage event that showcases a diverse assortment of musical styles and performers. Thousands of people from all over the country make the yearly trip to attend the festival, and Manchester becomes their temporary home for several days in June. As in years past, over 80,000 music lovers are expected to attend this year's festival, which kicks off Thursday night, June 11, and winds down Sunday night, June 14.
With 80,000 festivalgoers converging on the festival site, the area in and around Manchester always sees increased traffic throughout the festival. As Manchester prepares to welcome a multitude of visitors, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Tennessee Highway Patrol are gearing up for the extra traffic expected in the area. TDOT and the THP are working closely with the Manchester Police Department, the Coffee County Sheriff's Department and festival promoters to keep traffic moving on I-24 while also getting Bonnaroo attendees to their destination.
"As always, the main goal is to keep through traffic moving smoothly on I-24 during the Bonnaroo festival while getting festivalgoers safely into and out of the festival site," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. "TDOT has once again coordinated with our partners at THP and other agencies well ahead of the festival to ensure that traffic delays are kept to a minimum throughout the festival period."
This year, Bonnaroo will officially open all its gates on Wednesday evening June 10 at 8:00 p.m. CDT to allow more time for vehicles to enter the campgrounds. State Troopers will be on-the-job 24 hours a day, beginning Wednesday night, patrolling on the ground and by air.
"There has been a decrease in the number of crashes state troopers have worked during Bonnaroo the last couple of years," THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. "We hope that trend continues this year. We believe our presence on the interstate, along with joint efforts with TDOT and local law enforcement, has helped ensure safe passage ways to and from Bonnaroo," he added.
During Bonnaroo 2014, Troopers logged nearly 6,000 man-hours, worked 11 traffic crashes (0 fatal, 0 injury, and 11 property damage crashes), and wrote 124 citations and issued two warnings. A breakdown of all THP-issued citations during last year's festival period is included in this release.
TDOT HELP units will assist with traffic management during the festival and will aid any motorists who require assistance. In addition to having HELP trucks on-site, TDOT and other agencies will be taking the following steps beginning June 10 through June 15:
- Efforts will be concentrated on keeping I-24 traffic flowing.
- Exit 111 (SR 55) will be used as the main festival exit. Exits 97, 105, 112 (temporary exit on westbound side only), 117 and 127 are alternate exits if congestion occurs on the interstate.
- TDOT maintenance units will be posted throughout the festival region, and maintenance personnel will be on call all weekend.
- TDOT will provide variable message signs to warn drivers of delays.
- There will be no construction-related lane closures on I-24 near the Bonnaroo festival area between 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 10 through 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 15.
- Median crossovers will be guarded to prevent motorists from parking in the crossovers and blocking emergency vehicles.
- Festival traffic will be kept in the right lane and/or on the shoulder of the interstate, allowing through traffic to utilize the left travel lane unimpeded.
- Emergency vehicles will use county roads that will be kept at low volume.
- Bonnaroo promoters issued early news releases to the trucking industry and other sources to alert the traveling public to festival times, location, and alternate routes.
- Temporary communication towers are in place to improve emergency communications.
During the festival, motorists should call 511 from any mobile or land line phone for traffic updates or visit the TDOT website atwww.tn.gov/tdot where they can also find information on alternate routes. From your desktop or mobile device, get the latest traffic information and live streaming SmartWay traffic cameras at www.TNSmartWay.com/Traffic. TDOT is also on Twitter. For statewide traffic tweets follow TN511 or for regional traffic information follow Nashville511, Chattanooga511, Memphis511 and Knoxville511.
Also, drivers should keep in mind that if they need the assistance of a state trooper while traveling anywhere in Tennessee, they can simply dial *THP (*847) from their cell phone. They will be automatically connected to the nearest THP dispatch office and the operator will send a state trooper to their location.
For information about the event, click here.