Washington Shed Learns How To Park

RIDGEFIELD, WA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Amphitheater at Clark County in Ridgefield, Washington, has had parking problems since a legendary Jimmy Buffett show in 2003, when it took patrons nearly 4 hours to clear out the lots, creating a nightmare of snarled traffic for miles. Officials at the venue, located 20 minutes north of Portland, Oregon, say they have learned a lot in the years since.

“It was bad, and we own that,” Dan Braun, the facility’s CEO told The Oregonian. “But since then, we rolled up our sleeves and learned how to park cars.”

The result was especially obvious after a recent John Mayer concert, when the lot was empty less than 90 minutes after the show.

“It’s not that bad,” Braun told the paper. “We moved 9,000 cars out in about an hour and 20 minutes and that’s pretty good. I think what happens is that we’re battling people’s perceptions. A concert isn’t like going to the supermarket where you can walk to your car when you’re done and drive away. If you go to a show with thousands of other people who are all going to leave at once, there’ll be some waiting involved.”

The venue is currently using the Your Enhancement of Service, or YES, parking program, offering priority parking to cars with four or more occupants.

“We want to make going to hear music a social event again,” facility manager Kiet Callies, whom Braun credits with most of the improvements, told the paper. “We're asking people to get a group of friends together and share a ride when they come to a concert, and we reward them by parking them close to the venue in a lot with priority egress. We've had pretty good luck in emptying that lot in half an hour or less.”

Drivers can print YES Programs to tape inside their windshield from the shed’s website, and are directed to special areas upon arrival. Additional programs, including C-Tran shuttle buses scheduled to begin with a Willie Nelson concert on June 30, are being added over time.

“We're constantly tweaking the parking and trying to understand this from the drivers' points of view,” Callies said. “We examine ticket sales and try to estimate likely vehicle occupancy rates for different shows and prepare accordingly. But patrons need to have realistic expectations, too. We have a freeway onramp that can handle 2,400-2,600 cars an hour, so simple math says there are going to be some delays.” –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers