ACL’s additional weekend will have little impact on city transportation

Amanda Voeller

Austin City Limits Music Festival will extend to two weekends this year, and though the influx of an expected 225,000 visitors will necessitate road closures and increased shuttle bus service, city officials do not think the addition of a second weekend will present difficulties.

The Austin Police Department will use data gathered from previous years to prepare for and monitor the weekend festivals, held annually in Zilker Park. Both Barton Springs Road and Stratford Drive will be closed between Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 and between Oct. 11 and Oct. 13.

“With any event, we always have a debriefing afterwards with event promoters and various city staff,” William Manno, commander of specialized patrol and events planning, said. “We talk about what did not work … so when we start the planning stage for the next year’s event, [we discuss] what was identified [and] what has been done to mitigate those issues from last year.”

Alongside the Austin Parks and Recreation department and the transportation department, APD will monitor the two festival weekends from a command post outside Zilker Park to address any safety issues in a timely manner, Manno said.

“Our goal is, as citizens recognize that there’s an issue, we try to correct it that night, and we’ll put it in place for the next night if what we did worked,” Manno said.

Jake Dirr, Austin Center for Events spokesman, said the event’s additional weekend will not have a dramatic impact on transportation schedules in Austin.

“This event doesn’t require a large amount of road closures … and it’s the same plan that we implement more or less every year,” Dirr said. “Now we just implement it for two weekends [which] doesn’t require a whole lot of additional planning.”

Manno said many residents of the neighborhoods around Zilker Park have complained about people parking near their houses, so APD will have a greater presence in the area to enforce parking restrictions.

“ACL has reimbursed the [police] department [for] the cost of the officers for this traffic mitigation and enforcement in the neighborhoods, so this is not costing the taxpayers,” Manno said. 

Because Zilker Park does not offer parking for most festival visitors, a free shuttle leaves from Republic Square on the corner of 4th and Guadalupe. During the 2012 festival, 85,158 patrons used the shuttle.

ACL will pay Zilker Metropolitan Park a total of $53,060 for the event, according to the contract between the festival and the city. The festival contributed $102 million to the Austin economy in 2012 in its standard one-weekend format.

Although each band is different, the majority of bands visiting for ACL will stay downtown during the festival weekends but will not stay in Austin during the week.

Zilker Park closed for event set-up on Sept. 23 and will remain closed to the public until Oct. 26.

Read about what the two weekends mean for local business owners and visitors here.