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Long Beach Grand Prix: for the locals

Locals brace for the impact of street closures, traffic jams and increased police presence around Downtown Long Beach.

Connie Ojeda, Staff Writer

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Roaring engines, screaming crowds, jam-packed traffic and blocked off boulevards — these are the perks of living or working within a two mile radius of the annual Toyota Grand Prix event in downtown Long Beach.

After 43 consecutive years, the most anticipated high-speed racing event and prominent  contributor to the Long Beach economy returns. Despite being deemed by the Grand Prix Association as “Southern California’s most unique special event,” not all Long Beach residents feel the same way.

To the locals living in proximity of the event, the Grand Prix, scheduled April 7-9, is nothing more than an inconvenience. Street closures and track setups near Shoreline Village, which have been around for over a week, have made the commute across town much more difficult.

Cal State Long Beach finance graduate and Long Beach resident, Steven Alvarenga is among the many residents affected by the set up.

Alvarenga, who is not planning on attending the event this year, said he drove through Pine Avenue last weekend and was unaware of the street closure on Shoreline Drive, which resulted in being stuck in a bumper to bumper traffic jam for over 30 minutes.    

“The Grand Prix set up made for more traffic than usual,” said Alvarenga. “There was just the inconvenience of not enough parking and traffic jams on Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.”  

Aside from the street closures, locals who are planning on using Long Beach Transit’s bus services may also have to rearrange their schedules, as bus routes to certain areas near the event will be displaced.

According to a schedule published by the Long Beach Transit, beginning April 5, the Passport bus will not navigate through the Pike, Shoreline Village or Pine Avenue, but will instead take detours with access to drop off and pick up points near the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.  

Although the attention the Grand Prix brings to the city adds to the success of local businesses, locals like Salena Alcantar cannot help but  feel bombarded by the noise, the crowds, the trash and the traffic that comes along with an event of such magnitude.

Alcantar, who is both a sophomore at Long Beach City College and resident of Long Beach, said not only does the Grand Prix add to the amount of trash and noise pollution around the city, but also to the increased risk of drunken drivers within the area.

While the Long Beach police department does have a plan in place for the prevention of disorderly conduct, terror threats and drone flyovers during the three-day event, the crowd size, estimated to be 180,000, can make it a bit of a challenge for law enforcement officials to track down every individual breaking the law in the area.

With only three days left until the commencement of the event, locals should begin making arrangements to their daily routines to prevent them from being caught in the middle of a traffic jam or being left without a bus ride to work.

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