A crowd possibly twice the size of Dover’s population is descending on that city — and roads are going to get thick with cars.
The Firefly Music Festival is in its sixth year, and festival and state organizers say they’ve overcome some of the logistical difficulties of the past.
Still, with at least 70 percent of the possible 90,000 people attending the festival coming from north of Dover, traffic is expected to be tight.
“We plan constantly for these kinds of events,” said Gene Donaldson, operations manager of DelDOT Transportation Management Center. “We don’t want them sitting in a big backup.”
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Just like with NASCAR events held at Dover International Speedway, most festivalgoers will arrive at Firefly by taking Del. 1 to Exit 104 to U.S. 13, following that route south, Donaldson said.
If traffic on U.S. 13 gets too intense, there’s a plan to close down Exit 104 and divert drivers to Exit 95 so travelers can approach the festival from the south, he said. That’s what happened on June 4 for NASCAR’s AAA 400 race.
A handful of crashes in last year’s Firefly traffic also required this option to be implemented, Donaldson said.
AAA is offering free roadside service to anyone attending Firefly, according to spokesman Ken Grant. It’s a repeat of last year’s offer which Grant said helped 350 members and 450 non-members.
On standby is a team of 15 people equipped with six golf carts and two tow trucks, Grant said. Last year, the most common problems called into AAA were folks locking keys in their cars and vehicle batteries drained by people charging their devices, Grant said.
Those in need of help can call 1-800-222-4357.
State officials and their partners hold monthly meetings to prepare for these large events. With Firefly, part of the effort is avoiding the same situation as 2013 when festivalgoers found themselves in miles of traffic jams that lasted up to six hours.
Though there wasn’t any music Wednesday, the festival began accepting recreational vehicles and campers in an effort to relieve traffic.
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“We’re spreading out the demand over an additional day,” Donaldson said. “By Friday evening, most of the camping traffic is in. The thing we start working on Thursday are the day-trippers.”
Whether they’re coming and going or staking ground for the entire weekend, National Weather Service meteorologist Lance Franck is advising Firefly fans to plan for the heat.
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“Make sure to stay well hydrated and take shade to avoid heat stress,” Franck said.
There’s at least a chance of showers and thunderstorms on each day of the festival, Franck said, but it will become noticeably more humid as the weekend wears on.
The high is predicted to be around 77 on a mostly sunny Thursday. Friday is expected to reach 78 degrees; Saturday, 83 degrees; and Sunday, 88 degrees.
Outflow traffic often is weather-dependent, Donaldson said, with fewer people willing to stick it out until the end of the festival with uncomfortable conditions.
Donaldson said emptying the parking lots can be a hassle because of roadway capacity, but once the lots farthest from the roadways are clear readjustments can be made. How many lanes are available is what determines how quickly people can leave.
“We want to see a steady flow going out, not just a big surge,” Donaldson said. “That’s just like a hose or a pipe — you can only push so many cars through it.”
Contact Adam Duvernay at (302) 324-2785 or email@example.com.
DelDOT Travel advisories:
Road closures: Leipsic Road and Persimmon Tree Road in the vicinity of Dover International Speedway will be closed to through traffic beginning at 12 p.m. Thursday until Sunday evening.
All roads will be reopened at the conclusion of the festival. Local residents won’t have access through the closure area until the festival ends.
Camping and RV: Processing for campers and those with recreation vehicles will be located at Dover International Speedway Lot No. 1 south of the speedway bordered by US 13, Leipsic Road and Plaza Drive. Traffic from the south will enter Lot No. 1 from US 13 through Jefferic Boulevard and from the north using Leipsic Road.
Once each vehicle is processed in Lot No. 1 they will exit at the east end of the lot back to Leipsic Road and proceed to their assigned camping area.
Daily parking: Speedway lots are available for daily parking, accessible from the main entrance on U.S. 13.
Will Call: Passes for Firefly will be processed at Delaware Technical Community College located in north Dover; access to Delaware Technical Community College will be via Scarborough Road. Firefly patrons are encouraged to have their “will call” passes before being processed for camping.
Adjusted routes: Motorists can adjust their routes or travel times by using DelDOT’s Smartphone application. The DelDOT App is available and can be downloaded free at the Google Play and Apple store, search for “DelDOT.” WTMC 1380 AM is also available through the DelDOT App.
For real-time traffic information, visit DelDOT.gov, facebook.com/DelawareDOT or twitter.com/DelawareDOT.
For more information visit:
- Dover International Speedway’s website at doverspeedway.com
- Firefly Music Festival’s website at fireflyfestival.com
- Delaware Tourism’s website at visitdelaware.com