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By: Charles, Cochran, PE, PTOE
We recently developed Event Traffic Handling Plans for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in downtown Birmingham. The BJCC is home to the 19,000 seat Legacy Arena, which hosts concerts and sporting events year-round. Additionally, the complex hosts conferences and conventions in its Exhibition Halls and meeting rooms.
Due to recent and upcoming changes to the land uses and traffic patterns around the complex, we were contracted to update their event traffic handling plan. The purpose of these plans is to provide efficient and safe traffic operations for the area surrounding the BJCC while events are being hosted. Before we could develop recommendations, we had to have an understanding of how traffic was operating during ingress and egress periods associated with BJCC events. We observed traffic operations during five different events – the Gridiron Men’s Conference, a Gladys Knight Concert, WWE Smackdown Live, the World Deer Expo, and Disney on Ice. The World Deer Expo was a 3-day event where attendees could come and go as they wanted. The other four events had more concentrated ingress and egress periods. While observing the events, we were able to develop an understanding of typical driver and pedestrian patterns and identify potential chokepoints in the roadway network.
We developed traffic handling plans for two event types:
Event Type A – This is generally a large event held at the Legacy Arena and has concentrated ingress and egress traffic movements. Our traffic handling plan for this event type focused on funneling traffic to and from the parking lots in the most efficient manner and providing pedestrians safe crossing zones.
Event Type B – This is generally an event where the attendees’ arrival and departure times were spread out, like the World Deer Expo. Our traffic handling plan for this event type focused on providing pedestrians safe crossing zones.
Our recommendations included temporary roadway closures, police officer stations, special event staff locations, and guide signage needs. Our deliverables for this project included a final report and a one page guidance document with an event handling plan timeline and detailed instructions for special event staff and police officers.