Palin appearance snarls Clear Lake traffic
Traffic jams and parking problems greeted thousands of people trying to hear Sarah Palin speak in person Monday morning at a Clear Lake church.
Palin, along with Colin Powell, Zig Ziglar and other luminaries, were appearing at Grace Community Church as part of a Get Motivated business seminar.
The event's organizer estimated that 7,000 people flocked to the Gulf Freeway church, but Grace had room for 8,000. The seminar's 9 a.m. start time, however, collided with rush hour traffic.
Participants trying to get to the seminar reported horrendous traffic and inadequate parking, and large numbers of people who couldn't get near the church were redirected to the parking lot of the nearby AMC Gulf Pointe 30 movie theater, where eight shuttle buses had been hired to take them back to the church. But after waiting in line for more than an hour for buses that could only creep along, some still hadn't made it to the church by 11 a.m., missing Palin and some of the other speakers they came to hear.
The big-name speakers were immune to traffic headaches. Throughout the day, speakers were whisked by helicopter between Grace Community Church and the Toyota Center downtown, where another Get Motivated seminar was taking place, and a satellite feed beamed the presentations to Reliant Park.
Get Motivated CEO Peter Lowe said the company worked with police to minimize traffic disruptions and hired shuttle buses ahead of time to help. But shuttles can't move people quickly if the traffic's bad enough, he said, and people simply have to leave very early for popular events like this one, just as the Super Bowl crowd no doubt did.
The company's willing, however, to refund the money of anyone who missed their favorite speakers because of the traffic, Lowe said. The average price of a ticket, he said, was $4.95.
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