City preps for Thunder include traffic routes, tighter restrictions for boaters and hepatitis A inspections
The city released final information Wednesday about access to downtown and the measures being taken to keep the crowd safe.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While the crowds are making their plans for Saturday's Thunder Over Louisville, police and other officials are worried about safety.
No Pleasure Boats in the Thunder Safety Zone:
One big change is for the Ohio River. The U.S. Coast Guard is closing the Ohio River to all recreational boat traffic for Thunder. The USCG says swift currents, rising waters and debris make it too dangerous.
A safety zone is being set up from the McAlpine Lock and Dam to Six Mile Island to keep boaters out. The restrictions will be in place on Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. until Thunder is over.
Louisville Metro Police says it expects about 700,000 people in the nice weather expected Saturday. And they are asking drivers to arrive early and be patient getting into and out of downtown. To view the traffic plan, CLICK HERE.
Detailed traffic plans were released, which aren't very different from past years. The Second Street Bridge closes after morning rush on Thursday. It is scheduled to be reopened by 2 p.m. Sunday. Downtown streets will begin closures on Friday morning including River Road. For a complete list of street closings, CLICK HERE.
Beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday, Interstate 64 will be open, but there will be lane restrictions in the downtown area. Starting at 6:30 p.m., Muhammad Ali Boulevard from Clay Street to Ninth Street will be restricted to only emergency vehicles. Second Street from Jacob to Main Streets will also be restricted to emergency vehicles. Local businesses and those with legitimate needs will be allowed to cross, when the roadway is clear, according to police.
LMPD said Interstates 64, 65 and 71 will be shut down and traffic rerouted around downtown starting at 8:30 p.m. Saturday for the fireworks. All on-ramps to the interstates downtown will also be closed. Each will reopen following the show.
The police department will handle post-Thunder traffic with express routes designed to get people out of downtown quickly. Routes are planned to move traffic east, south and along Main Street. Watch for barricades and cones to be in place by 8 p.m. to direct drivers out of downtown.
Jeffersonville Police also issued a list of street closings. To view those, CLICK HERE.
Thunder Food Safety:
The concern over hepatitis A means food service is getting extra scrutiny this year. The Louisville Metro Health Department is reminding people to use one of the many hand washing stations in the area.
"We've been able to work with many area restaurants to get their food service employees vaccinated against hepatitis A," said Matt Rhodes, Director of Health Operations. "We've also worked with the concessionaires for Thunder Over Louisville to make sure they know we want them to have their workers vaccinated prior to coming to the event."
The health department said it has made an effort to get all food service workers vaccinated against hepatitis A. They continue to offer the shots for a reduced $25 cost instead of $65.
Thunder Dos and Don'ts:
The Kentucky Derby Festival's Matt Gibson said this year's Thunder Air Show will have more planes practicing on Friday. So expect the Big Four Bridge to be closed to pedestrians starting at 11 a.m. Friday. The Thunder Air Show begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"Thunder on the Ground" goes live at 11 a.m. Saturday. That means all areas and activities will be open.
Gibson said the ground is wet from all the rain, so he encourages people to bring tarps to sit on. Tarps cannot be larger than 10' x '10. No tents are allowed either. The Great Lawn at Waterfront Park opens at 9 a.m.
Here are the things NOT permitted at Thunder:
- No drones are allowed.
- No tents or canopies of any kind.
- No stakes.
- No tape, rope or pennant lines allowed.
- No glass bottles are allowed at the event site.
- Picnic blankets (and tarps limited to 10′ x 10′) and lawn chairs are permitted.
- Plastic bottles and food are permitted. There are plenty of food and soft drink stands in the Thunder venue.
- No alcoholic beverages are allowed. (Beer is available at the Chow Wagon and in designated Beer Gardens)
- No bikes, skateboards or skates are allowed in the event venue. You will be asked to walk them in for pedestrian safety.
- Please leave any pets at home.
The Kentucky Derby Festival is reminding people that due to increased security, all persons and parcels are subject to search.
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