Keeneland preparing for traffic impact amid construction

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - At the 2012 Spring Meet, Keeneland reported record crowds of nearly 270,000 people. This year, construction along Versailles Road could create headaches for crowds of that size trying to get in. Today, WKYT has learned more about how Keeneland plans to deal with the traffic as best they can.

Steven Florence is a big fan of the races.

"My grandparents have been taking me since I was little and I've just kept going every year. It's always been my favorite part of spring," he said.

He's planning to allow a lot more time to get in and out this year. A road construction project has been slowing traffic along Versailles Road since February and could create headaches as Keeneland's Spring Meet kicks off.

"It's just going to be hard for people to get in and out and it's going to get really clogged up, especially on opening weekend," said Florence.

Keeneland officials posted a document online, suggesting ways people can save time. They recommend leaving early. They've also opened up an alternate entrance at Van Meter Road leading to a new Tailgating Lot that will have large video screens and food trucks on Saturdays.

"I think that's actually a really good idea because more recently, people have been bringing their whole families there. With so many people there it's kind of hard to get through, and get around when you have young children with you so I guess it would be easier for them to stay out in the tailgate area while still seeing the races on the jumbo tron," he said.

Keeneland officials are also encouraging people not to leave all at once, adding live music events after the racing ends on certain days.

"It would slow down the people trying to exit at the same time, because that would be too much now with the construction and everybody leaving at the same time," said Florence.

Transportation Cabinet officials said they understand it's unfortunate timing to have a project along the entrance, but they said it was necessary.

"Spring and summer are construction months and in order to make these changes and improvements to the roads, we do have to go ahead as plans have been put into place to do the road work that's scheduled," said Natasha Lacy, spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Keeneland officials said plan to hold a press conference Wednesday to talk more about the plans.

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