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Bristol News

Posted on: August 9, 2019

Bristol, Tennessee announces traffic plan for August Race Weekend

A comprehensive plan that emphasizes the safety and pedestrians and motorists has been developed for the August 2019 Race Weekend to optimize the orderly flow of traffic to and from Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS).

Developed by the City of Bristol Tennessee in conjunction with many other agencies in both Tennessee and Virginia, the traffic plan includes details of arrival routes, guidelines for parking, and available exit routes following the K&N Pro Series Bush’s Beans 150 and Gander Outdoors UNOH Truck Series 200 race doubleheader on Thursday, August 15; the Xfinity Series Food City 300 race on Friday, August 16; and the Monster Energy Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, August 17.

“This traffic plan was designed with the safety of our citizens and visitors as our paramount concern,” said Bristol, Tennessee Traffic Engineer David Metzger. “Special attention has been given to all the pedestrians in the area of the racetrack and to their safety.”

Metzger reminds fans to arrive early to account for any delays in passing through the security checkpoints at BMS that are established for fan safety. Carrying items into the speedway in a clear bag and having your cooler ready for inspection at the gate will speed up the inspection process and minimize delays.

Please be reminded that ordinances in Bristol, Tennessee, and Bristol, Virginia, prohibit the buying, selling, trading, or exchanges of tickets or other merchandise on public road rights-of-way. People who wish to buy or sell items must do so on private property after securing the appropriate business license. In addition, Bristol Tennessee ordinances prohibit ticket scalping. State law prohibits golf carts or ATVs on public streets or public rights-of-way.

Planned events include:

Wednesday, August 14: Family Race Night in Downtown Bristol. The streets of downtown Bristol will be closed from 5:30 a.m. to approximately midnight on Wednesday, August 14, as Food City Family Race Night returns to downtown Bristol.

City of Bristol Tennessee

Thursday, August 15: K&N Pro Series East Bush’s Beans 150 and Gander Outdoors Truck Series UNOH 200 Races. Selected spectator gates open at 9:00 a.m., followed by various practice sessions. Qualifying for the Bush’s Beans 150 is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by qualifying for the UNOH 200 at 4:35 p.m. The Bush’s Beans 150 race is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m.; the UNOH 200 race is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. Red flag conditions notwithstanding, the second race is anticipated to end about 10:00 p.m.

Friday, August 16: Xfinity Series Food City 300 Race. Selected spectator gates open at 10:30 a.m.; others open at noon. Various practice sessions begin at 1:05 p.m. Qualifying for the Xfinity Series race begins at 4:05 p.m., followed by Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying at 5:35 p.m. The Xfinity Series Food City 300 race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. It is estimated that this 300-lap race will end about 9:15 p.m., red flag conditions notwithstanding.

Saturday, August 17: Monster Energy Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. The spectator gates open at 2:00 p.m. The pre-race concert begins at 5:45 p.m. and lasts one hour. The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Typically, red flag conditions notwithstanding, this race could end by about 10:45 p.m. or so.

For the Thursday night race doubleheader on August 15, traffic control is anticipated to be limited to the roadways in the immediate Bristol Motor Speedway area, such as Volunteer Parkway, Highway 11E, Highway 394, White Top Road, and Exide Drive, amongst others. A detailed plan summary for traffic flow on the Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup race days is attached.

For additional information, please contact Traffic Engineer David Metzger at (423) 989-5522 or at dmetzger@bristoltn.org.

Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Race Days Traffic Plan

August 2019 Race Weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway

PRE-RACE: GETTING THERE

  • Fans coming from Knoxville on northbound I-81 can exit at Tennessee Exit 57A, taking I-26 east to Tennessee State Route 381 (State of Franklin Road) at Exit 19 in Johnson City, which leads to US 11E and north again to BMS.
  • Fans coming over Sam's Gap on westbound I-26 from North Carolina should exit onto Tennessee State Route 381 (State of Franklin Road) at Exit 19 in Johnson City, which leads to US 11E and thence to BMS.
  • Fans coming from the Knoxville area can exit I-81 at Tennessee Exit 66 (State Route 126) or Exit 69 (State Route 394) and go through Blountville towards BMS. These are among the heaviest-traveled routes between Interstate 81 and BMS.
  • Fans coming from Roanoke or Wytheville on southbound I-81 are encouraged to exit at Virginia Exit 17 (Virginia State Route 75) in Abingdon and follow southbound Route 75 into Tennessee, where it changes to Tennessee State Route 44. Route 44 intersects US 421 in Holston Valley; go north on US 421 and turn left on Tennessee Highway 394, which will bring motorists into the Dragway side of BMS. There will be directional signage along this route to guide you to BMS.
  • Fans coming from Virginia on southbound I-81 can also exit at Virginia Exit 3 in Bristol (Interstate 381), which turns into Commonwealth Avenue in Bristol, Virginia, and Volunteer Parkway in Bristol, Tennessee, which leads directly to BMS. Fans may choose to turn left from southbound Volunteer Parkway to Tennessee State Route 358 (Weaver Pike) to reach Tennessee Highway 394 and get to BMS on the Dragway side.

Please plan how you will exit the racetrack area and select your parking location accordingly. Because of security precautions, vehicles parked in and around the track in no-parking zones will be towed immediately.

In years past, the speedway has operated the BMS radio network on the following radio stations:

  • WJCW-AM 910 (Tri-Cities, TN/VA) WXSM-AM 640 (Tri-Cities, TN/VA)
  • WGOC-AM 1320 (Bristol, VA) WNVA-FM 106.3 (Norton, VA)
  • WMEV-FM 93.9 (Marion, VA) WMTN-AM 1300 (Morristown, TN)

Fans are encouraged to listen to these stations (list of stations subject to change) as they approach BMS to get last-minute information on traffic, parking, and other important details that may impact their travel plans.

Motorists that need to go from the Johnson City area northward past BMS that are not going to Bristol Motor Speedway are encouraged to use the alternate northbound US 11E route that begins by exiting onto Highway 394 and leads to Virginia Exit 5 of I-81. Signage will direct such traffic on how to get around the BMS area.

The median opening at the intersection of Volunteer Parkway/US 11E and Exide Drive just north of BMS will be closed no earlier than noon and remain closed the rest of the day on both the Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup race days. The time of the closure will depend on the traffic conditions in the field. This means that there will be no left turns or U-turns at this intersection from any direction. Right turns will still be permitted all day long.

Other median openings along Volunteer Parkway and Highway 11E in the vicinity of BMS may also be closed before the race, depending on traffic conditions in that area at that time.

PRE-RACE: ONCE YOU ARE THERE

As in previous years, no parking will be permitted on the shoulders or medians of Volunteer Parkway, Highway 11E, Exide Drive, Highway 394, White Top Road, Old Thomas Bridge Road, or wherever signage so indicates. This is very important to leave these areas clear so pedestrians do not have to walk in the travel lanes at those locations. Some grassy areas are also marked as no-parking zones to allow for helicopter landing sites in case they are needed for medical emergencies. Other such locations are signed as no-parking zones so that vehicles parked before the race do not end up pointing the wrong direction for post-race one-way flows.

Because of heightened security, vehicles parked in no-parking zones will be towed for the safety of our citizens and visitors. Vehicles parked in these areas will be towed to the impound lot at the Exide Drive fire station northwest of BMS. No camping is permitted on public street rights-of-way.

All persons with handicapped parking license plates or mirror placards will be required to show proof-of-need in order to utilize the handicapped parking spaces on the BMS campus. People using these permits should display the permit clearly, AND be prepared to show supporting documentation identifying the person to whom the permit is issued, AND must provide a photo ID of the person to whom the permit is issued. If the permitted person is not in the vehicle, Bristol Police plan to prosecute the offender and confiscate the permit. Obviously, that vehicle will not be allowed to park in the Speedway's handicap-accessible lots. Signage in advance of the two campus entrances will direct persons using handicap permits into the checkpoint areas. Bristol Motor Speedway, in partnership with area law enforcement agencies, will be strictly enforcing this State law.

A portion of Sweet Knobs Trail that serves as a “frontage road” of Highway 394 for about two miles from the Copperhead Entrance to near Vance Tank Road will be converted to a temporary, one-way, eastbound-only road flowing towards Vance Tank Road. This will start on the morning of the Xfinity race and remain in place until after all the post-race traffic is over following the last race.

Left turns may not be permitted from northbound Highway 11E to westbound Highway 394 all weekend.

There will be heightened security at BMS, so arrive early to allow time to find a parking space and allow time to pass through the security checkpoints upon entering the stadium. All coolers (14 inches or less) and backpacks are subject to search. No firearms, even with state permits, will be allowed on BMS property. Regulations covering permitted and prohibited items inside the stadium are found on the BMS website and in the literature with the race ticket.

POST-RACE: LEAVING BMS

There are ten signed "drain" routes that will carry traffic from the BMS area back towards Interstates 26 and 81: (1) south on US 11E to I-26 Exit 19 and I-81 to Tennessee I-81 Exit 57; (2) south on the US 11E "contraflow" lane (available to motorists exiting South Entrance and some westbound White Top Road areas only) to I-26 Exit 19 and Tennessee I-81 Exit 57; (3, 4) west on Tennessee State Route 394 through Blountville to Tennessee I-81 Exit 66 or Exit 69; (5) north on Bethel Drive from Exide Drive to Carden Hollow Road to Tennessee State Route 126 to US 11W and thence to Tennessee I-81 Exit 74 (available to motorists exiting certain areas along Exide Drive and southbound Volunteer Parkway only); (6) north on US 11E to I-381 to Virginia I-81 Exit 3 in Bristol; (7) east on Tennessee Highway 394 to US 421, turn left onto US 421, following the signs to Virginia I-81 Exit 5; (8) east on Highway 394 to US 421, turn right onto US 421 to Route 44 in Holston Valley and on to Virginia I-81 Exit 17 in Abingdon; (9) from the Dragway, Sweet Knobs Trail, White Top Road, and Sportsway Drive areas to I-26 Exit 24 in southern Johnson City via US 19E through the Chinquapin area and Elizabethton (Chinquapin Route); (10) the White Top Route for parking and camping areas on White Top Road south of Highway 394, that leads to I-81 Exits 5 or 17 and I-26 Exit 24. All of these routes are extensively signed for guidance. Particular points of interest for post-race flows are as follows:

  • Traffic exiting the BMS grounds from the South Entrance can turn left towards Johnson City (Routes 1 and 2 above) or right towards Virginia (Route 6 above). However, these exiting vehicles, as well as those vehicles on Volunteer Parkway and Highway 11E from Sperry View Drive to White Top Road, may be stopped completely for up to one hour immediately after the race for the Pedestrian Hold period to allow pedestrians to leave BMS with greater safety.
  • One lane of traffic may be permitted to exit BMS from the North Entrance and turn right along northbound Highway 11E to Virginia Exit 3, depending on conditions inside the BMS campus. If so, these motorists are also subject to the Highway 11E Pedestrian Hold period immediately following the race.
  • Post-race traffic entering Highway 394 at Sportsway Drive, White Top Road, the Dragway Entrance, or the Copperhead Entrance may also be subject to a Pedestrian Hold period up to one hour after the race in the interests of pedestrian safety. Traffic on Highway 394 will also be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.

Some satellite parking/camping fields exiting onto Sweet Knobs Trail may also be held to allow pedestrians to leave the area safely. White Top Road motorists entering Highway 394 may also be held if they go past the Dragway or Copperhead Entrances.

To accommodate the Highway 394 post-race Pedestrian Hold period, westbound Highway 394 traffic approaching the BMS area from Weaver Pike may be stopped at the Vance Tank Road end of Sweet Knobs Trail and not be permitted to proceed westward until the Highway 394 hold period is over. Through motorists that would ordinarily use this roadway are advised to use alternate routes during the post-event periods.

Traffic exiting from parking areas south of Highway 394 and east of Highway 11E must go eastbound on Highway 394 and on to Virginia Exits 5 or 17. Motorists exiting from this area can also use the Chinquapin Route to Elizabethton and Johnson City and points beyond.

For motorists exiting parking and camping fields onto White Top Road south of Highway 394 (Speedway Parking, Hill and Dale Campground, Hicks White Top Campground, Dave’s Family Campground, and a portion of Farmer Bob’s Campground), they will not be permitted post-race to go west on White Top Road to its intersection with Highway 394. Instead, they will be required to go east on White Top Road, turn left at Vance Tank Road, and left again at the Sweet Knobs Trail concrete ramp to enter Highway 394. From there, they will be required to head east on Highway 394 and go on to Virginia Exits 5 or 17 or to Johnson City and Elizabethton as listed above via the Chinquapin Route. This is to relieve some of the congestion at the intersection of Highway 394 and White Top Road. There will be extensive signage in place to guide motorists along this route.

Please note that all of the median openings along Volunteer Parkway and Highway 11E from the Bristol Tennessee Essential Services facility two miles north of BMS to near Egypt Road about three miles south of BMS will be closed during and after the race for the setup and operation of the southbound Highway 11E contraflow. Motorists needing to make a U-turn along Highway 11E or Volunteer Parkway will have to go beyond those points to turn around. Driving through the median is both unlawful and extremely dangerous, as unexpected head-on traffic in the same lane may be encountered.

  • Traffic exiting from the Dragway Entrance (Thunder Valley Drive) onto Highway 394 may be required to turn left towards US 421 and on to Virginia Exits 5 or 17 of I-81 or the Chinquapin Route to Elizabethton and Johnson City.
  • Motorists exiting the BMS grounds via Copperhead Road will be required to take eastbound Sweet Knobs Trail parallel to Highway 394 to a point two miles east of BMS, where they will enter Highway 394 and go on to Virginia Interstate 81 Exits 5 or 17 or to Johnson City and Elizabethton via the Chinquapin Route as listed above.
  • Motorists traveling east on Sweet Knobs Trail post-race that wish to use the Chinquapin route to get to Elizabethton, Johnson City, or points beyond can do so by turning left onto eastbound Highway 394, exiting at Weaver Pike, and going south on Weaver Pike along the Chinquapin Route, following the TO JOHNSON CITY signs. Eastbound Sweet Knobs Trail traffic MUST turn left at its eastern intersection with Highway 394.
  • Traffic exiting from the All-American Campground must turn onto eastbound White Top Road to Highway 394, where they will turn left towards US 421, Interstate 81, and the Chinquapin route to Johnson City.
  • Traffic exiting from the Red Barn, Gentry, or locations on White Top Road Extension onto White Top Road can go east to Highway 394 or west to Highway 11E after the race. For those White Top Road motorists going west to US 11E, they are encouraged to go left (south) on Highway 11E utilizing the contraflow lane. These motorists will have no access to Highway 394; they must continue on to Johnson City and thence to Interstates 26 and 81. These motorists may also be able to go north on Highway 11E as circumstances permit, but will likely encounter delays as they go past the South and North Entrances.
  • Motorists parked in fields on the southbound side of Volunteer Parkway north of Exide Drive, or in the Earhart fields between Highway 11E and Bethel Drive, are encouraged to leave the area via westbound Exide Drive. Exide Drive from Highway 11E to Edison Circle (eastern intersection) at the industrial plant may operate as a one-way westbound contraflow roadway only during and after the race. There will be no access to Volunteer Parkway or Highway 11E from Exide Drive, Bethel Drive or Carden Hollow Road during this time. Such exiting motorists can proceed to northbound Bethel Drive to Carden Hollow Road and thence to Tennessee Exit 74, or to Highway 394 and on to Tennessee Exits 66 or 69 as listed above. Traffic parked in fields along Exide Drive west of Bethel Drive can leave the area by going west on Exide Drive to Highway 394 and on to Tennessee Exits 66 and 69.
  • The southbound Highway 11E off-ramp to Highway 394, and the ramp from Highway 394 to northbound Highway 11E, will be closed after the race. This is to alleviate congestion at the bottom of the ramps on Highway 394. Motorists going south on Highway 11E can reach Interstate 81 via State of Franklin Road and Interstate 26 via Route 1 described above.
  • The flow of motorists going west on Highway 394 can utilize the center two-way left-turn lane as a post-race westbound-only (contraflow) lane from Highway 11E to Blountville. This flow will be split at the Franklin Drive intersection in Blountville; motorists in the far left lane will turn left onto westbound Franklin Drive to Highway 126, which will take them to Interstate 81 at Exit 66. The other two lanes of motorists will continue on Highway 394 straight to Interstate 81 at Exit 69.
  •  If there is a crash on northbound Interstate 81 north of Exit 5, post-race traffic may not be able to get on to northbound Interstate 81 at Exit 5 in Bristol, Virginia. As a contingency plan, if a traffic problem develops, such traffic may be directed to continue north on Lee Highway to Virginia Exits 7 or 10 and enter the Interstate at that point. Traffic entering southbound Interstate 81 will be able to enter at Exit 5.
  • Motorists going to the Linden Drive and Exit 7 areas of Bristol, Virginia, after the race, are encouraged to leave Interstate 81 at Exit 5 and proceed north on Lee Highway (US 11/19) to the Exit 7 area. If those motorists are on Highway 394, the easiest route is to go east on Highway 394 to Highway 421, turn left, and follow the signs to Interstate 81; there will be additional signage on this route to direct motorists to the Linden Drive area.

TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: WHAT IT TAKES

There are many agencies other than the City of Bristol, Tennessee and the Bristol Motor Speedway that are involved in making race traffic operations as smooth and safe as possible. Personnel from the following agencies are instrumental in making your visit to Bristol Motor Speedway as safe as possible on Race Weekend:

  • Bristol, Tennessee Bristol, Virginia
  • Johnson City, Tennessee Kingsport, Tennessee
  • Bluff City, Tennessee Abingdon, Virginia
  • Elizabethton, Tennessee Jonesborough, Tennessee
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee Cleveland, Tennessee
  • Middlesboro, Kentucky Asheville, North Carolina
  • Knoxville, Tennessee Sullivan County, Tennessee
  • Washington County, Tennessee Greene County, Tennessee
  • Washington County, Virginia Carter County, Tennessee
  • Putnam County, Tennessee Tennessee Highway Patrol
  • Virginia State Police Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Tennessee Department of Transportation Kentucky State Police
  • Cumberland Gap Tunnel Authority Several federal agencies

A significant amount of material is also required to make this plan work outside of construction work zones:

  • 2,420 signs ten variable message sign trailers
  • three arrow board trailers twelve permanent variable message signs
  • 2,547 cones, lane separators, and barrels 121 barricades
  • 20 portable lighting units for roadway lighting one-third mile of chains along medians

Most of all, it takes the cooperation of the motoring public to make this plan a success.

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