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Festival parking plan no improvement

In an attempt to fix transportation issues during last year’s Country Crossings Music Festival, event promoters may have made things even worse — especially considering the heat and heavy wildfire smoke expected during the event that runs today through Sunday.

Last year, fans attending the festival at The Expo were unhappy with transportation arrangements that left them waiting hours for shuttle buses to take them to their vehicles parked six miles away in White City. This year, promoters decided the answer was to provide no off-site parking or shuttles, close Peninger Road at 7 each evening and direct patrons to park across the freeway in Central Point.

City and county authorities have banned parking along Peninger, Upton Road, East Pine Street and multiple streets closest to the Expo grounds. The Central Point School District is offering parking at Crater High School, Scenic Middle School and Jewett Elementary School, for a fee, but no shuttle service is available. Patrons may drop off attendees at Gate 1 near the Family Fun Center on Peninger, but only until 7 p.m. when the road closes to incoming traffic, and no pick-ups are allowed there. The official pick-up site is Scenic Middle School, more than a mile away.

That means festivalgoers will be walking long distances to leave the event — or to enter, if they are the ones left to park the car — in temperatures near 100 and air quality conditions ranging from unhealthful to possibly hazardous.

Some handicap parking was provided, but it’s sold out. So is VIP parking.

Festival organizers can’t be blamed for the heat or the smoke. And they say they are prepared to hand out breathing masks and provide medical treatment for attendees who may need it.

But we predict attendees who were frustrated with long waits for shuttles last year won’t be any happier with a long hike this year.