Sold-out Eric Church concert first big test for new traffic patterns

'Leaving early is strongly encouraged'

Sold-out concert first big test for...

READING, Pa. - Country music star Eric Church is set to take the stage in front of a sold-out crowd in Reading on Thursday, but getting to the Santander Arena may be a challenge for the thousands of concert-goers.

"We should have pretty much a jam mode in downtown Reading tonight," said Charles Broad, executive director of the Reading Downtown Improvement District.

The concert will be the first big test for new traffic patterns and detours that were put in place last week as a result of the Penn Street Bridge reconstruction project.

"Leaving early is strongly encouraged to help ensure you find parking and don't miss the beginning of the show," the arena said in a post on its Facebook page Thursday morning.

The biggest change for downtown-bound drivers are the closures of the ramp from Route 422 West to the Penn Street Bridge and one of the two inbound lanes on the bridge.

"The people from out of town are probably going to follow their GPS units, and they're probably going to wind up on the Penn Street Bridge," said Deputy Chief James Marasco, Reading Police Department.

Westbound drivers have been advised to get off at Lancaster Avenue, go across the Bingaman Street Bridge, and take Fifth Street into center city, where they can find one of the several parking garages within walking distance of the arena.

"There's a lot of signs directing people on how to get to the parking garages and how to get back to the DoubleTree, if that's their final destination," Marasco said.

LINK: Santander Arena parking information

Drivers who miss the Lancaster Avenue exit can stay on the bypass to the North Wyomissing Boulevard exit, follow Park Road toward West Reading, and cross the Schuylkill River into Reading on either the Buttonwood Street or Penn Street bridges.

"We expect the majority of the traffic to come from the West Reading area up Penn Street," Marasco said. "When they get to Fifth and Penn, it's going to barricaded. Traffic is going to be forced to either go to the right or go to the left."

LINK: Penn Street Bridge detour information

Reading police said they will have more than 10 officers begin directing traffic for the concert at approximately 6 p.m.

"Come in a little early, avoid the traffic, go down the street, walk around. It's a beautiful day. Have something to eat, have a drink, then go back in and enjoy the concert," Marasco said.

Doors to the arena will open at 7 p.m.; the concert is scheduled to end at approximately 11:30 p.m.

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