NCAA Championships: Bad traffic expected around KC Aquatic Center this weekend
March 21, 2012 · Updated 4:05 PM
Traffic is expected to be bad around the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center Thursday through Saturday night because of the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving National Championships.
The championships will kickoff at 11 a.m. Thursday morning at the Aquatic Center with trials in five swim events and 1-meter diving. The finals in those six events will start at 7 p.m. that night.
The schedule will remain the same on Friday and Saturday, with trials starting at 11 a.m. and finals kicking off at 7 p.m. in selected swimming and diving events.
According to press release from the Federal Way Police Department, more than 2,000 people can be expected at the event during peak times on Southwest Campus Drive. Athletes, coaches and support staff will start arriving at 6 a.m. every day and a majority of spectators will arrive from 10 to 11 a.m. and leave at about 1:30 p.m. for preliminary races. A far greater number of spectators will start to arrive at 6 p.m. for the finals each night and leave at about 9 p.m. Thursday, March 22, will be the lightest evening, followed by Friday. The largest turnout is anticipated on Saturday evening.
"Campus Drive is a busy arterial," the release says. "The volume of spectators arriving and leaving the venue is anticipated to create significant traffic issues especially during the evening events on Thursday and Friday evening that will coincide with the rush hour commute."
"Due to the limited free parking at the venue, spectators who are unfamiliar with the area will be searching for parking, adding to the congestion. Pedestrians who have parked in the neighborhoods to the south will be attempting to cross Campus Drive and cannot be counted upon to utilize the controlled crossing at the intersection with 6th Ave. S."
Paid parking is available in the Federal Way National Little League Ball fields east of the Aquatic Center. Additional free parking is available in the new building development south of 10th Ave S. The development has completed all roadways and sidewalks.
Historically, the Aquatic Center has experienced vehicle prowls during special events that fill the parking lots. The hardest hit areas tend to be the parking lots adjacent to the BPA Trail. Officers will be conducting extra patrol in all the parking areas.