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Frederick explains last weekend's massive gridlock

Friday - 9/14/2012, 6:26am  ET

WASHINGTON - Drivers heading up Interstate 270 to Frederick, Md. last Saturday probably wondered out loud "Hey? What's going on? Why is I-270 a rolling parking lot."

The answer is simple. Frederick was hosting two jumbo events:

  1. "In the Street" where the city shuts down the main drag through town, in this case Market Street.

  2. "Tough Mudder," a 12-mile endurance challenge during which teams work their way through a very tough obstacle course.

Capt. Thomas Ledwell, Frederick assistant chief, says that residents weren't happy with the gridlock these events caused. Some residents told police that they were stuck in their cars for up to four hours, either trying to get home, or running Saturday errands.

Ledwell says the city was expecting up to 15,000 to show up for the Tough Mudder, but 30,000 showed up. The Tough Mudder event was held on a farm on the northern outskirts of the city and organizers said they would provide parking at the farm.

The Frederick News-Post reports Police Chief Kim C. Dine says while organizers submitted a traffic and safety plan along with a permit application, the traffic plan was not followed adequately, nor did it accommodate what appeared to be an overbooked event that was exacerbated by heavy downpours.

The gridlock was so bad that authorities canceled the second day of the Tough Mudder event.

"Hhindsight is always 20/20," Ledwell says.

Authorities are looking into drafting new ordinances for events held on private property to prevent what happened Saturday.

Ledwell also says there were many police officers on hand. The problem was communication.

Police let Tough Mudder organizers handle the public relations and communications for the event. Ledwell acknowledges that this was a mistake and that next time police will handle commuicating with residents.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)