Fireworks show draws in largest crowd ever to downtown - WKRN News 2

Fireworks show draws in largest crowd ever to downtown, creates traffic issues

Posted: Updated: Jul 07, 2014 06:23 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Fourth of July crowd in downtown Nashville was the city’s largest for any event in its history, according to Metro police, but with a record crowd, now estimated at 284,000, came an equally historic traffic jam.

There are anecdotal stories of some people waiting up to three hours in their cars to leave the downtown area.

Many left their comments when the question was posed on WKRN's Facebook page.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron told News 2 that 145 of its officers were “dedicated specifically to traffic” and that its traffic command center operated “well into Saturday morning. The roads can only hold so many cars.”

He indicated that the police department’s emergency contingency office used a Google Maps program to make the new crowd estimate of 284,000.

As for potential changes because of the traffic jam, Aaron said the Nashville Police Department “makes adjustments to security and traffic every year.”

That was echoed by Jenna Smith of Metro Public Works who said in a statement, in part, "We, along with all relevant entities, including MPD, will absolutely review the traffic plan and closures again next year based on projected attendance." 

Aaron said his office put out a warning Thursday that those going to the 4th of July celebration should anticipate long delays, both before and after the downtown event.

Smith and Aaron both said road closures for the 4th of July event had been on their respective Web sites for weeks.

Most credit the unusually moderate temperatures and news stories that ranked the Nashville fireworks show as No. 2 in the country as reasons that swelled the higher-than-expected crowd.

The previous record for such an event was last year’s 4th of July celebration, which brought an estimated 150,000 people downtown.

While some said they spent three hours trying to leave Nashville’s inner core after the fireworks, a few have indicated by social media that they spent only 35 minutes getting out of the downtown area.

That issue came up in the WKRN Facebook posts when some suggested that MTA bus lanes could be dedicated to carry passengers from park and ride locations around the area. 

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