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John Lamb, Published September 03 2010

Trollwood traffic jam illustrates growth

The rain, winds and cool temperatures had been predicted. The traffic jam was not.

The biggest crowd at the new Trollwood Performing Arts School in south Moorhead brought with it the biggest hassle Wednesday night as 2,441 fans flocked to see Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion Summer Love Tour.”

Cars lined up on 50th Avenue South, waiting to park before the 7:30 p.m. show. Parking attendants ushered traffic along, but vehicles formed a steady mile-long line back to Highway 75. One account said cars were backed up north a mile-and-a-half past 37th Avenue.

Katie Phillips, associate director of development and events for FutureBuilders, the school’s fundraising group, looked on the bright side of the traffic jam. She said the hassle provided “a great learning experience” by testing the facility’s accessibility.

She said expanding 50th Avenue South from a two-lane to a four-lane road had been part of discussions from the beginning of planning at the site. She added that those discussions would likely be revived at the FutureBuilders board meeting later this month.

Before the performance, Phillips took the stage to say the show would start a little late to accommodate those in traffic.

Keillor came on at 7:38 p.m. and started the show as fans still filed in.

As of noon Thursday, Phillips said she hadn’t heard much feedback.

“I’ve been waiting for it,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to hearing how the site could improve for the public’s use.

“People know that it might take a while to get parked,” said Moorhead police Sergeant Mike Detloff, adding there were no traffic-related incidents.

He added that officers routinely help direct traffic after major events at the site. North Dakota-bound drivers are sent south on the gravel Third Street to 60th Avenue South and cross west over the Red River. Minnesota drivers are sent north on Highway 75 into Moorhead.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533