It was warm and sunny this Good Friday... and Forest Park was extremely busy.
This afternoon, Sky Zoom4 flew over bumper-to-bumper traffic from Interstate 64 to the Hampton exit and into the park entrance. Families at the park told me it took upwards of an hour and 45 minutes to travel from 64/40 into the park.
MoDOT even closed the westbound Hampton off-ramp at around 12:30 this afternoon to alleviate congestion that spilled onto the interstate.
Lesley Hoffarth, executive director of Forest Park Forever, says the Hampton entrance is the busiest because its the most familiar to park visitors. She says 60% of visitors use Hampton - even though there are nine other entrances.
Check out the park map here: www.forestparkforever.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/forestparkmap-alt-entrances-reduced.pdf
This year, MoDOT is using digital billboards (on 64/40 and I-44) to flash detour messages during peak park hours. The billboards encourage drivers to use other park entrances including:
The City of St. Louis is also using temporary signs on Kingshighway and McCausland to help guide drivers to Forest Park entrances.
Hoffarth says that over the last ten years, the number of park visitors has doubled from 6 million to 12 million a year. That, couples with construction at Wells (at the zoo entrance) and perhaps the newer, less familiar Hampton entrance may be slowing down traffic this year.
Hoffarth adds the park will consider more signs on park grounds to help get drivers to attractions like the zoo and museum from the other entrances. She says the park would also like to re-institute the use of a shuttle bus in the park - but that plan depends on Metro funding.
*NOTE: Next week (Monday through Friday), Fine Arts Drive in front of the art museum will be closed the entire week because heavy equipment will be brought in for work on the building.