The fact that rush-hour traffic around North Bayshore has long been regarded as a nightmare is not news, but the situation has reportedly gone from bad to worse in recent weeks, due to heavily attended concerts at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
Nearby residents and businesses say this year's concert traffic has been the worst they've ever seen, due to a new pilot program by the amphitheater's organizers to close off some nearby roads in an effort to move traffic through the area more quickly.
Many locals first noticed the changes during a sold-out evening concert by the Dixie Chicks on July 12. The midweek concert was already likely to create traffic snarls because it pitted a crush of festival-goers heading into Shoreline Boulevard against a crowd of tech workers heading home. But nearby residents at the Santiago Villa mobile home park say the situation was drastically worsened by traffic crews who closed off La Avenida Street near the Computer History Museum.
La Avenida is often used by Santiago Villa residents and nearby tech workers as a shortcut to get out to Highway 101. But with the road closed during large concerts, residents say they had to detour to Pear Avenue and wade through the brunt of the traffic jam, which took 20 minutes or longer. The situation reportedly spurred several residents to complain to city officials.
"This is absolutely worse than in years past," said Bee Hanson, a Santiago Villa resident. "Backups like this weren't happening before; it takes much more time now to get out (to Highway 101)."
Officials from Live Nation, the concert promoter at Shoreline Amphitheatre, and its traffic-management workers were testing out ways to facilitate traffic through the area, especially during well-attended events, said J.P. De la Montaigne, Mountain View's community services director.
"The problems is these large-attended events on weeknights," he said. "It's particularly difficult here because there so few ingress and egress points."
Under an idea reportedly sanctioned by city and police officials, Live Nation traffic crews attempted closing off La Avenida as a way to allow Shoreline Boulevard traffic to move consistently through that intersection. De la Montaigne said he hadn't heard yet whether the pilot program was successful.
Calls to the city police's traffic supervisor who monitored the program were not immediately returned.
The traffic problems have generated other complaints. Rob Graham, owner of the Sports Page Bar & Grill, was furious about the traffic controls put in place by Live Nation during a July 16 Darius Rucker show. Traffic crews placed a line of traffic cones in front of his business, cordoning off his main driveway off Shoreline Boulevard. The roadblock did nothing to speed up traffic, Graham said, but he estimates it cost him 50 percent of his Friday night business because most drivers couldn't pull into his parking lot.
"I was letting staff go home at 9 p.m. because no one from the concert was able to get in," he said. "Nobody in the normal happy-hour crowd could get in either because they were blocked off."
After he spoke to police officials, Graham said concert organizers last week made sure that drivers could access his business.