Orange County motorists got a taste Friday of what weekend traffic will be like when the Santa Ana and San Diego freeways backed up for miles from their convergence in El Toro.
Contributing to the mess were wo of Orange County's biggest crowd attracters--the Navy Relief Air Show at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and the Grateful Dead rock concert at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. Both will be on through the rest of the weekend.
A private performance of the air show was presented Friday afternoon, and the sight of jet planes skimming the terrain and looping overhead had the usual effect: Cars slowed or stopped and traffic became knotted up.
The California Highway Patrol reported that San Diego Freeway traffic, always heavy on a Friday afternoon, was stop-and-go from El Toro to as far north as John Wayne Airport. Southbound traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway was halted most of the way back to the Costa Mesa Freeway interchange.
Parking a Mile Away
Traffic continued to be heavy before the 7:30 p.m. Grateful Dead concert, with concert-goers parking more than a mile from the amphitheater. Vendors were said to be going from car to stopped car selling souvenirs.
The air show, which attracts crowds numbering up to 500,000, opens at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and runs most of the day.
The remaining Grateful Dead concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
"We're advising that anyone who has to go south over the weekend and arrive at a particular time to get an early start," said CHP Officer Matt Clark. "The only alternate route is . . . Coast Highway, which is always crowded on weekends anyway."
Clark said that both the CHP and Irvine police have assigned extra officers to the area for the peak traffic periods.
He warned that there will be a special effort to cite drivers who stop on the freeway to watch the air show.