Wings over Ellington, sticky mud below
The good news for organizers of the Wings Over Houston Airshow was that an estimated 90,000 people turned out over the weekend. The bad news for organizers of the Wings Over Houston Airshow was that an estimated 90,000 people turned out over the weekend. And some of them are cranky.
Blue skies and the Blue Angels drew a record crowd, clogging Highway 3 and Ellington Airport's "parking lots" -- which also double as fields of grass and mud -- despite bus shuttles from the Bay Area and South Point Park & Rides.
Comments that chron.com readers left on a photo gallery from Wings Over Houston raved about the performances but came down hard on the traffic and parking planners:
"In all the years I've seen the show - this has by far been the worst I've ever seen it. The cops there used no common sense to adjust to the situation . . . they get an F. Traffic - at a complete standstill stretched all the way past the beltway."
"It should not take 80 minutes to get from my home in the northern part of Clear Lake . . . I finally get to my parking spot in a muddy field we can only go about ten feet into - and have to jump the curb to get in and out."
"A ton of cars that parked in the grass got stuck due to the heavy rains all week. I would guess over 100 cars had to be assisted by wreckers it was a mess out there."
"It took me 3.5 hours to get home. I spent over 2 hours standing in a line waiting for a shuttle bus to take me to my car at the park & ride. Needless to say I will never go to this event again, nor recommend it to anyone."
Although Saturday and Sunday's cool and clear weather was blessedly more comfortable than the heat of previous years when the airshow was scheduled earlier in the fall, last week's rains forced the cancellation of Friday's special sneak peek for disabled visitors and turned the fields into a sticky mess.
Jennifer Friedmann, a spokeswoman for Wings Over Houston, said the show paid for all the tows but she didn't know many cars had to be pulled out of the mud because the wreckers were paid a flat rate.
She said the show's organizers have not yet received reports from the bus company about wait times at the Park & Rides, but said "two hours seems too high."
"On the other hand," she said, "I do know that some drivers waited two hours to get out of Ellington. Two of our staff left at 4 p.m. on Saturday one was on Highway 3 within 13 minutes, while the other waited two hours."
"The Wings Over Houston Airshow committee worked closely with TxDOT, Houston Police Department and traffic consultants to develop traffic plans; although the saturated grounds and significant attendance did create delays for some patrons."
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