VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach officials are redirecting traffic routes to accommodate larger than normal crowds that are going to be in the resort area of the city for College Beach Weekend.
According to the city, traffic on I-264 eastbound will be diverted at Parks Avenue and redirected westbound on I-264 beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 27, and again beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 until traffic is flowing safely. Also, the eastbound exit for South Birdneck Road and the westbound exit for First Colonial Road will be closed.
"Our communications with residents and visitors emphasizes planning for lousy traffic conditions and that message seems to be getting out there," said City Council Member John Uhrin, who represents the beach district of the city.
City Code 21-3 gives Virginia Beach's City Manager the authority to manage and direct all vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the city.
"Past experience tells us we need to begin diverting vehicles early to avoid the traffic backups that make recovery even more difficult. We hope identifying the specific time will make planning just a little easier for everyone," added Uhrin.
The city said that law enforcement will be monitoring the roads in Virginia Beach to make sure emergency vehicles and personnel can respond quickly and safely to calls.
Virginia Beach Police and city officials brought News 3 behind the scenes at the 2nd precinct Friday afternoon as they gear up for College Beach Week.
Two retired police officers were monitoring the screens looking for any suspicious behavior. The chief said safety is of their top priority and protecting the young people that to send into the city, the businesses and the local residents. There is an increased police presence throughout the Oceanfront area.
They expect Saturday to be busier than Friday and say they're treating this just like any other holiday weekend. It's hard to know how many people will show up for the festivities, but officials have predicted roughly 40,000.
Problems with violence in past years have caused some to be critical of the event.
Last year, thousands signed a petition calling for an end to College Beach Weekend after four people at the Oceanfront were injured from a shooting.
However, it's not a city-sanctioned event, so city officials can't control who shows up.
News 3 spoke to several ODU students who said they were excited to have a fun night and looking forward to hanging out with other college kids.