By Alyssa Schnugg
Anyone who attempted to leave their homes in Oxford Saturday afternoon quickly learned city officials weren’t kidding when they said there could be traffic issues over the weekend.
With the Morgan Wallen concert and the LSU baseball series, the term traffic “issues” was an understatement.
However, Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen said that despite heavy traffic, the weekend went about as smoothly as anyone could have expected it to go.
“Overall, it was a good weekend,” he told Hotty Toddy News Monday. “Each night was a little unique. Traffic was the biggest concern and a puzzle that we tried to fix.”
While Oxford is no stranger to big crowds during football home games, there were a few differences on Saturday. There were people leaving the baseball game and people coming for the concert. Many of those people coming to the concert had never been to Oxford before, not to mention roundabouts.
“Trying to get baseball off campus, while trying to get the concert crowd on campus was difficult,” McCutchen said. “it’s very similar to an early football kickoff when the crowds arrive at the same time. When people can tailgate and trickle in slowly, it makes for an easier intake. When you have almost 10,000 people also trying to leave at the same time, it’s going to create a standstill in locations.”
Saturday night on the Square was a busy one, but the crowds were “fine,” McCutchen said.
“We had only a handful of arrests for the entire city. We did not have any major safety issues.”
McCutchen said his department made some changes Sunday to how they handled the pre-concert traffic.
“We were more successful on Sunday,” he said.
However, Wallen canceled his show just moments before he was supposed to appear on stage. He sent a typed message that appeared on social media and on the monitors at the concert. The message said he had lost his voice and could not perform.
This had everyone leaving campus at the same time.
“I know everyone was disappointed with how Sunday night ended but we are thankful for their patience and understanding,” McCutchen said. “It was a strain on first responders to make adjustments and we understood people were going to be upset. Our goal was to work hard to at least help them get home efficiently as possible.”