City prepares for Jubilee crowds, traffic

Published 8:16 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2015

By Blake Deshazo

The Selma Times-Journal

Thousands of people will be welcomed into the Queen City next week, as the city celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches.

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The city expects there to be tons of traffic, as people are planning to visit Selma from across the world. That means there will be buses and cars filled with people looking for a place to park.

The city of Selma Department of Planning and Development is in the process of finalizing traffic and parking plans for next week.

“The city will do what public safety does typically for special events,” said James Benderson, Planning and Development Director. “The city is collaborating with all the agencies and organizations involved in parking.”

Many of the downtown Selma streets will closed for events, limiting parking, but the city has designated certain lots for buses and cars.

“There are several public and privately owned lots that will be utilized,” Benderson said. “The city has designated Bloch Park for buses.”

According to Benderson, the city has discussed shuttling people to and from designated parking lots, but plans for shuttles have not been finalized yet.

There will be a parking fee, according to Benderson, but the price has not been set. Proceeds from designated city parking will go directly to the city of Selma.

The Selma Police Department is also in the process of finalizing its plans for the jubilee.

“Our goal is to make sure that we have a good number of law enforcement officers in and around the jubilee area,” said Chief of Police William Riley. “That’s what is going to be important for us.”

Other agencies will provide assistance to Selma to increase security during the celebration.

“During the jubilee festival Saturday and Sunday, we’re going to have all of our people working,” Riley said. “We’ll also have additional help from other local agencies as well as the state because we’re going to have a huge influx of people.”

The Edmund Pettus Bridge will be closed off for much of the day Saturday and Sunday, according to Riley. The closing is to accommodate President Obama, who plans to speak Saturday, and the bridge crossing on Sunday.

“We don’t have a set time that the bridge will be closed, but the approximate time that we have is early Saturday morning around 5 a.m.,” Riley said. “The bridge will be closed down, and anyone that will be coming into town will have to go around the bypass.”

According to Riley, there is a similar plan in place for Sunday.

“Depending on the time of the march, you could see the bridge close down at 10 a.m.,” Riley said. “A lot of it is going to be depending on the timing of the march on Sunday.”

The march is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Most of the traffic and all of the buses, Riley said, will be detoured using the bypass to come into Selma.