City to limit crowds during Trinity bridge celebration

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 8:08 PM

DALLAS — The grand opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is cause for a three-day celebration this weekend — a party venue before any traffic crosses the distinctive Trinity River span.

Workers are already installing the stage for a big concert on the bridge, but the city will limit the maximum attendance to 6,750.

While this will be the place to be for music, food and activities, Dallas Fire-Rescue is imposing limits.

"We look at the amount of space that we have available — really for the exiting part — and we make sure that we have adequate exiting for the amount of people that we're saying," Assistant Chief Debra Carlin explained. "We have two exits — one at each end — so we look at the width and do our calculations."

The top attraction Friday night will be Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, with tickets at $200 each, playing until 10 p.m. A fireworks show will follow.

The non-profit Trinity Trust and Trinity Commons Foundation sponsor the party and hired Todd Events to produce; they said the crowd will be limited to about 2,600 on Friday night, but will likely hit that 6,750 number during events on Saturday.

"We'll have a gated security entrance where you'll come through a bag check, and as you come through a bag check from a safety standpoint you'll go through the clicker process and they'll count you onto the bridge," said Todd Fiscus of Todd Events, who added that his company has experience in regulating capacity at events.

Dallas Fire-Rescue said this is the first time it has ever computed capacity on a bridge.

"We did this same thing at most large events, where we have people clicking in and clicking out to keep the numbers correct," Chief Carlin said, explaining that fire department personnel will use radio communication to coordinate the volume of traffic on both ends of the bridge.

The biggest safety risk, Carlin said, is failure to use common sense. Security fencing will provide a barrier to the edge of the bridge, which was not designed for pedestrian traffic.

If the span does reach capacity, revelers will be directed to events in nearby West Dallas.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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