Traffic problems arise at Wakarusa fest

Update: Journal-World reporter Eric Weslander has learned more about the reasons behind the traffic delay.

Gary Thomas, head of security for the festival, said the traffic is slower on the way in this year because of more stringent vehicle checks at the gate.

“We’re popping a lot more trunks and checking for glass, fireworks and narcotics, people with counterfeit wristbands,” he said. “We did a lot of those things last year but this year we’re just stepping it up. “It’s a slow go but it’s steady and it’s organized.”

Thomas said many people were coming up to the gate unprepared, without their tickets in hand.

“Apparently a lot of people aren’t reading the huge sign that says ‘Approaching vehicle checkpoints, please have tickets ready,'” he said. “They’re digging in their bags. It just causes major congestion and traffic.”

Journal-World reporter Sarah Benson is at the scene of the traffic jam at the intersection of Wakarusa and Clinton Parkway. The traffic jam was caused by breakdowns among the hundreds of motoring music lovers headed to the Wakarusa Festival at Clinton Lake. Some cars had mechanical problems. Others simply ran out of gas. Here is Benson’s eyewitness report.

“The cars are backed up as far as the horizon in the direction of the lake and only now has traffic begun to move at a crawl.

“A tow truck from University Towing is removing disabled cars from the front of the stalled line and taking them away. Some people were dancing between the stalled cars.

“Others took advantage of the traffic jam by runnning across the street to a liquor store, coming back with cases of beer.

“A single policeman was directing traffic at the intersection. But there was little he could do to help. He had been there two hours.

“One older woman in a Lincoln Continental did as several others did and at the suggestion of the policeman jumped her car over the median. It took her two tries.

“I talked to a man on a scooter who had been helping out by running back and forth ferrying gasoline to those who had run out of gas.”

Marshall Rake, who works promotions for, said the traffic jam was still going on about 11:20 a.m. today. Rake said some people are making the best of it, having jam sessions or walking car-to-car to sell their vendor wares.

Stay tuned for later updates.