News 12 First at Five; April 7, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Masters Week brings thousands of visitors to Augusta, many of them driving near the course. News 12's Gene Petriello checked out the traffic on Monday morning.
When you think of the Masters, you think traffic. When you think traffic, you think aggravation. But, so far this year, it hasn't been all that bad.
You see it everywhere in Augusta this week, traffic. But, one first time Masters visitor says, who cares?
"We figured there's no way we'd get tickets. So, we don't care if there's traffic of hundreds of people or what. We're just excited to be here," says Joanne Combs.
But, her husband doesn't agree completely.
"It's bad!" E.C. Combs says, laughing.
Right now, he's not too optimistic about the rest of the week either.
E.C.: "It'll get worse, for sure!"
News 12: "But, it's worth the wait, right?"
E.C.: "It is for us because it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to get to the Masters."
So, just how long was their drive from Wheeler to Washington Road?
"Not as long as you might think. Maybe, 15 or 20 minutes," says E.C.
There is a traffic control center set up at Westside High School. There, they are seeing the same results E.C. is seeing.
News 12 decided to take the drive from Wheeler Road to the course.
News 12: "It took us about 10 minutes; pretty good conditions?"
Major Weaver: "Yeah, real good. Ideal conditions."
But, on Monday morning there were some backups on Wheeler Road. Riverwatch Parkway driving was taking between 15 minutes and an hour. On Washington Road, the travel time was 15 to 20 minutes to the course. On Martintown Road in North Augusta, the travel time was taking between 20 to 40 minutes. The Martintown Road route is the one less traveled.
"We've really pushed it this year to relieve Washington Road and actually give people an alternate route," says Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell.
News 12 did their part to ease the traffic by moving a few cones around on Washington Road so Major Weaver and News 12 could get through some of the traffic. Still, Duffer Hardison and her husband - who are on their second Masters trip – are saying it's no problem!
"'Cause we haven't been down there (to the course) yet! We just arrived," says Frank Hardison.
There were some problems on Monday also. There was some traffic causing the Eastbound I-20 off ramp onto Washington Road to be closed for about an hour. Also, Stanley Drive was congested by the new parking lots.
Frank has a message for all you drivers out there.
"Be patient! But, on the other hand, drivers are drivers and where ever you go, there are a lot of them who are impatient."
The I-20 Westbound ramp onto I-20 is open everyday from 2-9pm. Steve says you can expect the I-20 Eastbound ramp off onto Washington Road to be possibly closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Also, make sure you use both right hand turning lanes onto Stanley Drive off of Washington Road to ease traffic on the road. Do not use Alexander Drive to get to the course. You will not be able to get into the parking lots.