Chief: U.S. 90 traffic is slow, but it’s moving

Traffic on U.S. 90, swollen with spring break visitors, is moving slowly today, but it’s moving and police are continuing to take steps to keep it moving, says Police Chief John Miller.

By mid-afternoon, police had barricaded many turning bays to avoid traffic snags along the four-land boulevard, and Miller said he hoped to avoid having to vent traffic toward Ocean Springs and Gulfport.

The weekend, which kicked off with outdoor concerts at the Coliseum and an indoor nightclub setting last night in the Convention Center, has fallen short of the promoter’s expectations, so far. A crowd of 50,000 was expected for the weekend, and as many as 5,000 were predicted to attend a nightclub-style party in the convention center Friday night. Miller said about 650 were on the Coliseum grounds over the course of the day Friday – about 300 at any given time – and just under a thousand were in the convention center Friday night.

Keeping traffic moving today has been the challenge, Miller said. Police are employing a special events traffic plan in which initial steps include closing turning lanes on U.S. 90.

“We closed the turning bays about two hours ago,” the chief said at 4 p.m., “because people were finding areas where they wanted to cruise back and forth, so when they went to turn around, a whole lot of people would want to turn around, and, of course, that back slows everything down.

“It’s moving, but not as quick as I would like it to be moving. The heaviest-traveled and slowest-moving area, of course, is in front of the Coliseum.

“It’s like we said all along: Anytime you invite thousands of people to an area in a specific time frame, you’re going to have traffic and delays.”

Police made 26 arrests Friday, with charges including public drunk, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and concealed weapons. A total of 21 vehicles had been towed on Friday.

“But overall,” Miller said, “things are going well so far. There are a lot of people, not the 50,000 that was predicted, but it’s a lot of people. For this many people, things are going really well.”

News and notes

Spring break schedule: To see the official spring break web site, click here.

Webcasting: Police Chief John Miller spoke about spring break during the weekly “City Desk” webcast on Thursday morning. To listen to the 20-minute program, which includes the latest news from City Hall, click here.

The code: To see the Code of Conduct for spring break, which is similar to codes of conduct for other special events in the city, click here.