Busing people from fairgrounds to course could clog streets
By TOM HASSLINGER/Staff writer
COEUR d’ALENE — The road to the water has hydroplane race organizers a little bit worried.
Figuring out the perfect way to pull off a race on Lake Coeur d’Alene that could entertain 30,000 or 40,000 people for the first time isn’t the easiest thing to do, and that includes getting fans to and from the venue.
“Everything is something we’re working through, you bet,” said Herb Huseland, Diamond Cup Regatta spokesperson.
One speed bump they’ve hit along the way — and the race is now two weeks out — is the park and ride option for spectators. Busing around 16,000 people from the Kootenai County Fairgrounds to the race course at Silver Beach could clog traffic at the fairgrounds or on East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive.
“It occurred to us as we were crunching the numbers,” Huseland said of the potential pitfall. “We can see a log jam at the fairgrounds with a huge crowd gathering and the buses being inadequate to deliver people to the race course in a timely manner.”
To help ease the possible congestion, organizers are asking spectators to ride their bicycles to the course if they can.
About 30 buses should be on hand to shuttle people from the fairgrounds, which has roughly 5,000 parking spots for hydro goers. But the logistics behind those numbers have organizers second guessing if busing everybody is the most effective shuttle method. Instead, locals might want to pedal on two wheels to the race course on Labor Day weekend Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 to “avoid the snake swallowing a pig” at the fairgrounds. While parking won’t be allowed down by the race course, bicycles will be allowed to ride all the way to the seating area.
“At what point do you chock the road full?” Huseland said, adding, “This is going to be an experience. This is not the ideal race course like the Tri Cities where you drive right to the race course.”
The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, working with organizers on traffic planning, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
Christie Wood, Cd’A police spokesperson, said officers will be patrolling neighborhoods near the Silver Beach area for parking violations.