MANKATO — Three years after a traffic debacle at a previous Mankato air show frustrated drivers, a revised parking plan is expected to result in smoother flows — though some waiting will still be inevitable.
Blue Earth County Road 12, the only way in and out of air show parking lots, will be converted to two lanes of one-way traffic. Each lane will enter and exit the parking lots in one of four gates.
The goal is continuous flow, without merging or other traffic conflicts, along County Road 12 near the airport. Congestion may occur before that, as vehicles wait to leave the parking lots, as well as afterward, on surrounding roads, Mankato traffic engineer Landon Bode said.
“They will have to take their time to get out of the air show,” Bode said, “but once they get out of it, we hope traffic control will be much smoother.”
After the show starts, at about 12:30 p.m., County Road 12 will be converted back to normal traffic for a few hours. Then, as the Thunderbirds start their show, it will be converted back into one-way traffic.
Importantly, vehicles will have to leave the parking lots in the direction they came from. Traffic entering from the south will have to travel southbound to leave, and likewise for traffic from the north.
A shortcut from Highway 22 along 583rd Avenue, a gravel road, will be designated for performers and staff. Sheriff’s deputies will be posted at the entrance, and those without passes won’t pass.
If the airport parking lots are full, River Hills Mall will host an overflow lot. A free shuttle will run between the mall and airport, but it will only start once the airport parking lots are full. If that happens, signs will direct traffic to the mall lot.