Officials brace for weekend race traffic

By Michael Davis

Predicting over 100,000 race-fans for Sunday's Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, law enforcement and track officials hope that plans that have worked in the past will work this weekend.

Reversing the flow of traffic on a portion of U.S. Highway 19/41, officials say, has helped ease traffic congestion before and after the race in the past two years.

The "counterflow" plan won't go into effect until Sunday morning, but track officials want to make sure the entire week goes smoothly.

"There are a lot more directional signs," around the track property, she said, adding that fans will have to park on the side of the track closest to the direction from which they came and leave in that direction.

"That has really helped traffic flow because there is no criss-crossing on our property," said Angela Revell, communications manager for AMS. "There really is a rhythm to our madness."

The use of the "counterflow" lane of U.S. Highway 19/41 has also helped ? a little too much, said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Ed Alverson, commander of Troop D.

He said that motorists have become so used to the "counterflow" lanes, that at recent races, they have started using them too early.

"They would just cross over the median," Alverson said. "We'll have to monitor it a little closer to make sure people stay out of it until we're ready."

Revell said that motorists coming from the Interstate 75 area at exit 218 will be directed to Ga. Highway 81 to get to the speedway.

"That will leave the Highway 20 corridor a little clearer near Hampton," she said.

Alverson said that before Sunday's race, the stretch of U.S. Highway 19/41 between Richard Petty Boulevard and the main gate at AMS will be closed, eliminating any thru-traffic around the raceway.

"Most people around have learned that if you're not going to the race, you stay off 19/41 on Sunday," he said.

The stretch will stay closed until the start of the race and close again when the race is over and stay closed until the parking lots are empty.

"It just helps us empty the track a little bit faster," Alverson said.

Keith Rohling, a district traffic engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation recommends several routes to get to the track.

From south of the speedway from I-75, take Ga. Highway 16 in Griffin west to U.S. Highway 19/41 or Hampton-Locust Grove Road west.

From north of the speedway, take the Tara Boulevard exit in Jonesboro, the Jonesboro Road exit or the Ga. Highway 20/81 exits in McDonough.

"We've got plenty of signs directing people so they shouldn't have a problem," Rohling said.