A spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord says in the wake of a traffic mess Saturday night, base police opened twice as many gates to allow people leaving the show to leave McChord Airfield. Five gates were open Saturday afternoon, ten were opened Friday.
People who were stuck Saturday after attending the air expo at JBLM ended up stuck in a huge traffic jam, some claiming they were in their cars for four hours.
The show featured big name acts -- everything from the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army Golden Knights Parachute team to the civilian Aerobatic Maneuvers of Tim Weber.
Kristina King says it took her and her sister more than three hours to get off the base after the show was over.
“It was hot. We didn't have anything to drink, nothing to eat. My sister is diabetic. She started getting shaky,” she said.
And they were far from the only people complaining.
Think of it as the Mariners and Seahawks games getting out at the same time. That’s more than 100,000 people.
The free airshow happens every other year. The last show in 2010 brought out about a quarter million spectators and in 2008 even more than that.
Crowd and traffic management is always a big job. But the base made some changes after Saturday’s problems.
“We”ve doubled the number of exit gates leaving the installation. Our goal this evening is to, once the Thunderbirds are done to have the people be able to leave the base as expeditiously as they can and still in a safe manner,” said JBLM spokesman Joe Piek.
The Air Force said part of the problem Saturday was the closure of a section of 212th street that runs across the north side of the runway, which would have kept people from getting onto Highway 512.
On Sunday the weather wasn't as nice, there was some drizzle late in the morning and the crowds were definitely down - estimated around 45,000 - less than half the number from Saturday.