Get ready for gridlock
What not to do: Insider tips to avoid gridlock getting around ACL
Spending an hour sitting in a parking garage after a concert is a mind-numbing, frustrating experience.
Standing in line for an hour waiting for a bus after a concert frustrates even the patient among us.
Sitting in traffic for a festival you have no desire to attend, well, that just sucks.
Frankly Austin doesn't do traffic well, never has. Anyone who hits the festival circuit or regularly attends big events here knows to plan an extra hour or two just to get in or out.
And so, in an effort to speed traffic through our town this weekend, here is a primer to ease navigating downtown and Zilker Park, whether or not you plan to attend the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival.
For those NOT going to ACL:
Don't go downtown or around Zilker Park this weekend.
No, the Austin City Limits Music Festival is not SXSW, but seriously, if you are not attending the festival, give the rest of us who are a break. Don't further clog up the works by going to the west side of downtown for a night out. Is that fair? No, of course not, but it is life in Austin.
If you must go, avoid Republic Square Park downtown and know that Barton Springs Road is closed.
This is probably not the weekend to take the kids out for a splash in Barton Springs: all roads around Zilker will be a zoo. Mopac will be backed up north of the Barton Skyway exit. Lamar will be gridlocked at 6th Street (as usual during the week) all the way south to Barton Springs Road and north to at least Enfield. Avoiding Mopac (this might be one time you think of I-35 as an option) and staying east of Congress and south of Barton Springs should be fine.
All roads around Republic Square Park (that's where shuttle buses are), from 3rd Street to 5th Street north, and from Guadalupe to Nueces (east and west) will either be closed or have lane closures. If you are downtown, stay east of Congress and you should be OK.
For those attending the festival:
Go early, and I mean early.
Plan to walk in before noon. It will be painful as you nurse that hangover on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but it will be worth it to park, jump on the bus, and be standing (or napping) in the park within minutes. Drink that first beer down with a couple of aspirin and you'll be fine.
Yes, this one is a bit controversial, but if you want to avoid the monster bus line, you have to get out before Kanye is done. This is, of course, a matter of compromise and communication between you and the friends you are hanging with, just know the consequences.
Take a bike.
There is no reason to walk two miles to get to this festival. You may decide to park a long walk away, but throw your bike in the trunk and ride that last mile. You'll smile, with a cool breeze in your face, as you pedal by those sweating folks toting chairs.
Take the bus. Embrace Cap Metro just this once.
The first bus runs at 10am and the last bus leaves the park at 11pm every day. You board at Republic Square Park and can park at the garage across the street.
It's a party on the bus. After all, this is Austin, so the people are awesome and fun. You can argue about which band was best that day, sing the encore together, bond with your fellow Austinites. Isn't that what a music festival is all about?