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It was the perfect storm.

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Traffic rolled to a crawl on Calhoun Expressway on the first day of Masters Tournament practice rounds this year. Traffic planners already are looking for ways to improve flow next April.  JEFF JANOWSKI/FILE
JEFF JANOWSKI/FILE
Traffic rolled to a crawl on Calhoun Expressway on the first day of Masters Tournament practice rounds this year. Traffic planners already are looking for ways to improve flow next April.

On the third day of the Masters Tournament, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods finished late, diners headed for the dinner dates at busy restaurants and bars along Washington Road and "cruisers" came out to see the action.

"That was the first time I've been here that we just couldn't get Washington Road cleared," said Steve Cassell, Richmond County's traffic engineer.

It will be his job in the coming weeks to go over this year's Masters experiences and determine what he, the sheriff's office and Augusta National Golf Club can do differently next year.

Measures such as adjusting turn lanes and altering the patterns of departing patrons are a possibility, he said. More message signs might also help.

"We've talked about further turn restrictions and things like that, but nothing's been finalized," he said.

One thing that could change next year is greater use of Alexander Drive for departing Masters traffic, Cassell said.

Work on expanding the road has begun, and if completed by next year it could mean an extra route away from Washington Road.

Still, incoming traffic is not likely to use the road. Cassell said that creates the problem of having golf traffic cross golf traffic at the same intersection and would only slow things down, he said.

"If you got them crossing each other and turning, then they are competing for green time at the signal," Cassell said.

Traffic patterns remained relatively unchanged from last year, but officials quickly discovered how unpredictable Masters traffic can be.

From lengthy backups along Berckmans Road to impatient patrons hopping curbs and driving through barrier ropes, traffic at the tournament presented unforeseen challenges.

Cassell said the roads quickly reached capacity April 10 as thousands left the tournament at once, while at the same time others returned to Washington Road for dinner or for one of the many Masters-related parties being held along the strip.

Cassell said he watched as some people simply cruised up and down the road -- windows down and music blaring -- for a chance to check things out.

"If you looked at the license plates, 75 percent of them were from Richmond and Columbia County," Cassell said. "They had no reason to go down there. They knew what was going on."

Still, every day of traffic at the tournament was not like Saturday.

Throughout the week, traffic flowed relatively smoothly, considering the extra cars on the road, Cassell said.

On Thursday and Friday two groups left the lots en masse -- the ones who departed after Tiger finished playing and everyone else.

One big problem was inside Augusta National's new 8,000-spot free parking area.

Though a bevy of young parking attendants were on hand in the morning to direct patrons to parking spots, by the evening few were to be found, some patrons complained.

Haphazard lines formed as patrons converged on the exits Saturday. Line-jumpers caused some in the back to wait hours.

Tom Briar, a spokesman for Country Club Services, a private firm hired by the Augusta National to manage the lots, said he was not able to discuss any parking plans until he speaks with representatives of the Augusta National.

An Augusta National spokesman took written questions about traffic problems at midweek but had not responded late Friday.

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disssman
6
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disssman 04/18/10 - 07:42 am
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Mr Cassell may want to do

Mr Cassell may want to do some thinking about the 75% of cars with richmond county plates, not having any busines on Washington Road. I believe those are the people who pay for the streets and your salary to prevent this kind of travesty. I am glad folks are groveling to the Masters court trying to find answers to questions that won't upset them though. I am glad we are spending the money to develop a plan of action. Although I would have thought the Masters would be responsible for the cost of the plan, and our involvement would be approval/disapproval of their ideas. Do we really have enough officers to provide members for this little study group and who is in charge of it - the Masters?

GuyIncognito
1
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GuyIncognito 04/18/10 - 08:18 am
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While I try to avoid

While I try to avoid Washington Road and the golf traffic that week, I did have to go down there for an appointment. The traffic wasn't too bad, but I don't think that a city engineer is in any position to make an official statement in the newspaper about whether or not I had any business down there.

Mr.Jenkins
0
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Mr.Jenkins 04/18/10 - 08:52 am
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I continue to be

I continue to be flabbergasted by this problem! Most sporting events allow one way traffic before and after the events. Why not have all lanes to enter event from I-20 including median between 7-9am and reverse 6-8pm down Washington Road or whenever event ends with farthest lane have limited left turns at a few lights. Cones can be used and that's it. End of discussion.

disssman
6
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disssman 04/18/10 - 10:42 am
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It would appear that the

It would appear that the activity is overtaxing our ability to cope with it. Now if I had a party at my home and invited 10,000 guests and the created a traffic jam, what would the police do? It would appear the Masters may need to limit or move the event to insure that emergency vehicles have free access to emergency situations.

db16
95
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db16 04/18/10 - 10:51 am
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Here is a place you can

Here is a place you can start...Have your officers use their radios to communicate with each other! I live here in the CSRA, I drive Executives around during Masters Week and this was the worst I have ever seen it. I was embarrassed for my city and the clients we hosted. We used the gate 9 entrance from Ingleside Drive to Berkmans Road. I would come up Wicklow to drop my folks off on Heath Drive and come back down Berkmans as my exit. I heard officers slamming patrons, cussing out drivers and being everything but friendly to OUR GUESTS. I was cursed out and threatened with a ticket in front of my clients for stopping to pick them up after waiting in stand still traffic for 30 minutes. Quite tragic! There was ZERO pattern to the traffic flow. Officers would send a dozen cars UP Berkmans Rd. to Washington (but you had to turn Right up at Washington and go downtown) then they would begin to send some down Berkmans Rd towards Ingleside and Wheeler Roads. The officers were unapproachable and failed to realize that there are still locals who drive these roads everyday and know which routes we should take and how to navigate...When I asked them why they wouldn't allow me to turn right off of Heath to go back down to Ingleside (after the 15 Cars in front of me turned right) I got cussed at and told to go left. NO COMMUNICATION, POOR PLANNING and UNKIND LAW ENFORCEMENT BEHAVIOR SHOULD BE EVALUATED BEFORE WE SHOW OFF OUR CITY NEXT YEAR!

countyman
19527
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countyman 04/18/10 - 12:08 pm
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I have to agree with Steve

I have to agree with Steve Cassell. This is a smart man who knows what he's doing. Why did 75% of the cars have a Columbia or Richmond county tag? I think alot of people just wanted to drive around Augusta National. Like Mr. Cassell said some people wanted to check things out. It's like driving around the Superbowl or the NCAA final four. Some people want to see what's all the fuss about. Therefore adding to the traffic problem.

Alexander Drive is going through a $10 million makeover. The road will be open for next years Masters. People will be allowed to cut from Washington rd to Riverwatch pkwy. Then get onto interstate 20.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 04/18/10 - 01:40 pm
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I agree with db16. Another

I agree with db16. Another thing that would help is teach your officers how to direct traffic and keep it flowing if you want officers directing traffic. Some officers did great and traffic moved smoothly. Others were horrible. We had to do work across the street from there daily. Some of the officers would hold up cars to let a set of 3 walkers cross then here come 3 more scragglers so keep the cars held, them 3 more, then 3 more then 3 more etc..... How about not holding up traffic if there isn't a group of them trying to cross. We waited for half an hour almost to move a couple of blocks while 2 or 3 people at a time would cross spread out by way to much room. It shouldnt take 15 minutes to let 15 people cross the street. Then repeat after 3 cars go by. over and over and over. They need to let a large crowd at a time go by and traffic wouldn't get so backed up for no reason. This isn't the only event some of them do this at. We were the 3 car in line to leave the fireworks last year. 1 car pulled out and the officer stopped traffic to wait on walkers that were about 2 blocks away. We had to wait over 10 minutes just for them to get close to the intersection. 50 or more cars could have been let go before they reached the intersection. It was ridiculous. Basically the smae thing at the masters, prevent 50 cars from passing to wait on a couple of people to take forever to even get close to crossing.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 04/18/10 - 01:47 pm
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Mr. Jenkins, nice idea but

Mr. Jenkins, nice idea but that still wouldn't work if you have officers holding traffic for ridiculous amounts of time to let a couple of people cross the street. It would just then be a one way traffic jam. lol Not all the officers did that, and when they didn't the traffic moved smoothly. They let a large group go for 15 minutes then when they started breaking off and scraggling into small packs some made them wait until a larger group formed then stopped traffic again. Theres no reason to hold traffic in the same position for 15 people broken into groups of 2 or 3 spread out by a football field in between each. lol

J.W.
2
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J.W. 04/18/10 - 03:13 pm
0
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Mr. Cassell, while you're in

Mr. Cassell, while you're in the mood to fix things. How about fixing the left turn signal on River Watch Parkway that takes you to east bound I-20! It was obviously reprogrammed for Masters week to allow more cars to exit the interstate. Now all it does is create a hugh backup of traffic waiting to turn left. I sat through it 3 times before I finally was able to make the turn. It's a real problem that has gotten quite dangerous.

fatboyhog
1885
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fatboyhog 04/18/10 - 04:10 pm
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Mr. Jenkins has the right

Mr. Jenkins has the right idea. And db16, I'm sure some of the police may have had nasty attitudes, but you are part of the problem as well. I guess you were one of the drivers that the rules don't apply to. When you stop to load or unload passengers, you cause part of the backup. The Augusta National should look into installing pedestrian tunnels at gate 6 and gate 10, as a large part of the problem is pedestrian traffic holding up vehicle traffic.

corgimom
30081
Points
corgimom 04/18/10 - 05:39 pm
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The officers stop to let

The officers stop to let walkers across because their main concern is SAFETY. There have been terrible fatalities during Masters.

So you had to wait for a while. So you had to go down a different street.

How do you value that against making sure that nobody gets hurt or dies?

veggie-d
0
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veggie-d 04/18/10 - 09:47 pm
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why not shuttle more folks in

why not shuttle more folks in from outlying areas/hotels/businesses on busses? might take a few hundred cars of the road/cut down on congestion/waste less fuel/keep drunks from driving/create less pollution/etc...especially if electric/alternative fuels busses were used. just gotta give'em a priority in traffic...maybe create a high occupancy lane for vehicles with 5 or more passengers?

adding pedestrian bridges/tunnels would also eliminate the hold-ups created by foot traffic.

probably keep the police frustration level down as well. then they can smile and "be nice" to all the "mutards" they have to deal with in that traffic fiasco...

Stoney_3
0
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Stoney_3 04/18/10 - 10:10 pm
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This was my 2nd Masters

This was my 2nd Masters tournament so it's hard for me to compare to other years, but - - - - I was a bit stunned at Saturday & Sunday's snail's pace when leaving the new lot. I had decided to leave my rig & go with friends to dinner. After not moving one cars length in 40 minutes, we decided to park & walk to visit with Big John Daly. Traffic was still very s l o w even after our visit. My departure on Sunday led to right on Washington to areas unknown to me...for miles & miles. I just kept following the I-20 signs & if I'm not mistaken - - I wound up back at the Washington Street exit after traveling 5-6 miles through town. I'm just surprised that an event that runs so smoothly ends with such confusion. It didn't take away from a wonderful week in your city of Augusta (wonderful people - nice neighborhoods - friendly kids) but it sure put a downer on my 700 mile drive back home.

PS: See you next year !!

corgimom
30081
Points
corgimom 04/20/10 - 07:25 pm
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0
Come to Charlotte, NC where

Come to Charlotte, NC where the traffic slows to a crawl on a daily basis. Or Los Angeles, or San Diego, or any other big city. Augusta drivers are spoiled.

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