90 minutes to reach Tanglewood? Cold and rainy conditions caused a last-minute traffic jam ahead of Bonnie Raitt’s show | Local News

LENOX – What happens when, on a cold, rainy night, almost 16,000 spectators converge on Tanglewood at the last minute for a 7-hour show by Bonnie Raitt?

Inevitably, as Lenox Police Chief Stephen E. O’Brien pointed out Tuesday, there were significant traffic delays ahead of the show, particularly from Richmond on Lenox Mountain Road, the route favored by visitors to New York State.

Typically, he said, on good weather days, ticket holders arrive gradually before the 4 p.m. gate opens along with picnickers and patrons eager for close lawn spaces.

But with showers and temperatures in the upper 40s, most fans chose to plan their arrival much closer to the scheduled 7 p.m. showtime, O’Brien said.

“As many as 16,000 people showed up at once because they didn’t want to get cold and wet, instead of spreading it out starting three hours before the event,” O’Brien said.

And to make matters worse, there were ticket scanner issues at the gates, Tanglewood management of the Boston Symphony said.

Richmond resident Robert Youdelman told The Eagle that he and his wife, Karen, were stuck in “the worst traffic jam by far in 15 years heading to Lenox or Tanglewood events from Richmond” via Lenox Mountain Road.

They were caught in a 90-minute save in the late afternoon. “It doesn’t bode well for the rest of Tanglewood’s season unless a solution is found,” he said.

In a statement, the Boston Symphony Orchestra issued an apology to patrons “who were delayed by the unfortunate confluence of weather-related traffic and ticket scanner issues that impacted their timely arrival at the concert. by Bonnie Raitt on Saturday night”.

Tanglewood management is reviewing logistics operations for all future performance “to continue to ensure easy access to the grounds and the best possible customer experience, with particular attention given to the difficult circumstances inherent in poor weather conditions”, according to a carrier. word of BSO.

The BSO is offering ticket holders who missed a significant portion of the Saturday night concert credit for a future performance by Tanglewood, Boston Pops or Symphony Hall (concerts by popular artists not included) by emailing a request to tickets @bso.org. The deadline for credit applications is August 1.

Looking ahead, rain or shine, the lack of traffic enforcement officers working for the Lenox Police Department and the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office could be an ongoing challenge this summer, the chief of Lenox Police, O’Brien.

Normally, the Lenox PD deploys four officers to help direct traffic to and from Tanglewood. “But this summer we’re fighting to get three,” O’Brien said. “We can’t find people; it’s the lack of people who want to work, like everywhere else in the country where there are personnel problems.

Traffic control officers are employed part-time by the city’s police department, but they have no policing powers except to direct traffic. “Pretty much anyone can do it,” O’Brien suggested.

As for the two on duty Saturday from 2 p.m., “it was difficult for them, but they worked very hard and diligently and did the best they could,” he said. “But you can’t handle that, when everyone shows up at exactly the same time because they don’t want to be cold and wet.”

“I asked a sheriff to bail us out, but they can’t find any staff either, same problem,” O’Brien added. Although the State Police provide security inside Tanglewood, they are not involved in traffic enforcement.

Some viewers have reported a much smoother experience.

Ralph and Lauren Emerson, from Millbury, a town near Worcester, traveled to the show from their Airbnb rental in Williamstown.

“Tanglewood is a very special place for us,” said Ralph Emerson. The normal 45 minute trip took 15 minutes longer due to a typical save on final approach on West Street (Route 183) in Lenox.

“We are great spectators, and this was one of the smoothest traffic operations I have encountered,” he noted. “The police and concert staff did a fantastic job getting people in.”

Looking ahead, the Lenox Police Chief warned that “on heavy popular artist nights, we’ll get the same traffic we normally get, and he’ll be busted for James Taylor.” [on July 3 and 4].”

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