Roads will close for traffic heading to Air Tattoo

Traffic backed up for kilometres as people tried to get to Ohakea for the air force 75th birthday displays in 2012.
LEILANI HAYES/ FAIRFAX NZ

Traffic backed up for kilometres as people tried to get to Ohakea for the air force 75th birthday displays in 2012.

Organisers of the popular Air Tattoo are pledging to avoid a repeat of the traffic chaos that afflicted the event last time it was staged at Ohakea.

The Air Tattoo will be held on February 25 and 26, and the air force 80th birthday organisers are working hard to overcome the memory of the 2012 mayhem.

In 2012, the traffic jam of people trying to get to the 75th anniversary celebration backed up 12 kilometres toward Whanganui and the 28km-trip from Palmerston North took several hours as an estimated 50,000 people packed out the show, and many others abandoned the attempt.

Ohakea commander Group Captain Nick Olney said they learnt a lot from that.

READ MORE: Drama in the air over Ohakea - rather than on the roads

"We have engaged a very experienced team of traffic management consultants who have worked on some of the biggest public events in the world, such as the London and Rio Olympics."

Tickets will be sold in advance and the number sold per day restricted.

Olney said they don't know for certain how many people attended last time as a lot of people didn't make it to Ohakea and spectators were leaving as others were still arriving.

However, they believed about 50,000 attended the event, so this year they had set the limit to 50,000 for each day.

"The plan is going to maximise the amount of people who are going to get in there to enjoy the show."

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With no gate sales, Olney encouraged people to get tickets early.

There will be free parking and free bus trips from Manfeild, Feilding, and the Rangitikei Polo Club, Bulls, with limited prepaid parking available close to Ohakea.

Olney stressed this parking had to be bought at least a week before the show and a pass would be posted out.

If anybody attempted to drive and park at Ohakea who did not have a pass, they would be sent to Feilding or Bulls to catch a bus.

Car parking will be open from 6am and event gates open from 7am.

Several roads will be closed on the days of the events, with access limited to residents and guests or business operators and their pre-arranged customers.

Diversions will be signposted for traffic not attending the Air Tattoo and a traffic management team will be in operation over the weekend and in the days before.

Olney said they would be working with their neighbours to make sure there was as little disruption as possible.

"We understand that while this is a big event for us, as it is our 80th anniversary, normal life goes on for others."

Having online advance sales of tickets, park-and-ride options and limited prepaid parking would mean faster entry to the event and reduced traffic in key areas, he said.

"We are confident that the steps that are being proposed will go a long way to alleviating the traffic issues of 2012.

"This is proving to be a very popular event, with tickets selling fast, and we want to do everything we can to help people have a memorable day for all the right reasons."

Once the plan had been approved, details will be provided to nearby residents and businesses.

There may also be public meetings.

Proposed roads to be closed on the days of the event:

Tangimoana Rd from SH3 to Campion RdTaylor Rd from SH1 to Tangimoana RdSpeedy Rd from SH1 to Tangimoana RdAll of Mcdonnell RdFagan Rd from SH3 to Speedy RdWilsons Rd South from SH3 to Ngaio RdAll of Wightman RdAll of Hurst RdMingaroa Rd from Ngaio Rd to Halcombe RdNgaio Rd from Wilsons Rd South to Mt Stewart Halcombe RdSandon Rd from Lees Rd to Ranfurly RdPhillips St from Fagan St to Acourt StAcourt St from Phillips St to SH3Wilson St from SH3 to SH1All of Watson St

 - Stuff

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