During the next two weekends, there will be a couple of major events happening in the Bay Area that will result in busier highways. But you don’t have to let the consistent traffic jams spoil your weekend. I have some advice on what you can do.
MacDill AirFest 2009 (March 28 and 29): Just like every year before, the MacDill AirFest will surely bring in many visitors from across the Bay Area. This year, the USAF Thunderbirds are back and turnout is expected to be quite modest. Nonetheless, if you plan to make the commute to South Tampa, here are a few things to keep in mind.
*Arrive Early: If you can get to the base gate by 10:00am, then chances are, you’ll get a spot to park on the airstrip. However, I suggest that if you’re able to, try to get to the base no later than 7:30am so that you don’t have to combat super long lines on Dale Mabry, which will clearly expand to other arteries as the day progresses. Gates open at 8am and the final pack of vehicles will be allowed in until 3pm, or whenever the lots become too full to handle anymore traffic. Though the Dale Mabry entrance is the main way in, you can still try to MacDill gate, which will be open to visitors as well. The Bayshore gate, like in years past, will be limited to only base personell.
*Shuttle Bus Service But there is another option if you don’t want to fight the traffic. HART is bringing back the Route 4 Shuttle Service, which will run on both days of the AirFest. Saturday, the service will run from 8am until 2:15pm. The first bus leaves downtown at 8am and arrives at the base at around 8:45am, the final round trip will occur at 1:30pm, arriving at the base at 2:15pm to return to downtown. Because of security concerns, the shuttle service will be suspended until 4pm, in which buses will depart the base (ONLY) until 6pm. Please note that Sunday service begins at 10am, but all other timepoints mentioned apply.
Route 36 will not provide service to the base. Instead the route will only service the segment north of Britton Plaza. A connector shuttle will provide service from the Plaza to the Route 4 via Euclid Ave.
St. Pete Grand Prix (Weekend of April 3): It is certainly a good thing that this event does not share the same weekend as the AirFest this year. I believe that may have caused just a bit too much of a headache last year. Nevertheless, if you plan to head out to this event, your main problem will be trying to find a good spot to park. Also be advised that many streets within downtown St. Pete will be closed prior to, during, and the days after the events.