News 12 at 6 O'Clock / Tuesday, March 8, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's official: 2011 Masters will kick off in one month. Augusta leaders are already working on plans to keep everything moving smoothly. The Sheriff's Office is expecting 15,000 extra cars on the road Masters week; it's a lot of people and lot of early planning.
A statue of the 12th hole at Augusta National sits on Major Richard Weaver's desk. He says it's a reminder of the busiest traffic week of the year. "We work along with traffic engineering and the department of transportation to get people in and out as quick as we can."
He says every year they learn a little bit more about how to keep the traffic moving along, "During the week of the Masters, construction comes to a halt. Alexander Drive wont be completed so that might cause some problems. But all around town, downtown, all of those things have been done so construction won't be a problem for us."
That's certainly what Helen Hopkins hopes. Her hair salon sits at the intersection of Alexander Drive and Washington Road. She says it's been a traffic mess for several months. "Most of my customers dont want to come this way because traffic is so intense," she says of that special week in April. She warns, "Most people that don't have any business on this side of town- don't come this way!"
Major Weaver says this year we will see some changes in road routes. "Possibly some changes in the routes coming out of the parking lots." He adds, "The only other thing is possibly some changes on Berkmans road."
But, explains traffic engineer Steve Cassell, they're not ready to reveal those exact changes just yet. Cassell says there is a meeting planned for Wednesday, March 9, at National Hills Elementary to inform the public about this year's Masters traffic and road plans. News 12 will post all pertinent information announced at that meeting online.
Other resources for navigating to or away from the national hills area include online maps and parking plans on the official Masters website. Weaver says daily traffic info will be broadcast live on AM 580. In addition, city engineers will be monitoring the traffic from at least a dozen cameras near the National.
"Eventually it will all clear out," promises Weaver. "Patience is the word for that week. Just be patient!"
News 12 will also have traffic cameras rolling on I-20 and near Windsor jewelry, both convenient locations to keep an eye on traffic. You can also count on News 12 every day that week to give you all of the latest traffic news.