VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — If you plan to head to the Oceanfront to see the fireworks this Fourth of July, you’d better get there early.
Virginia Beach police are planning to change-up the traffic pattern.
From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., police will make you turn onto Parks Avenue from Interstate 264 instead of letting you drive straight to Pacific or Atlantic avenues.
Officers will also close the I-264 westbound exit at First Colonial Road and the South Birdneck Road exit from I-264 eastbound.
If you want to get into the resort area night Tuesday, you’ll have to take Shore Drive, Laskin Road, Virginia Beach Boulevard or General Booth Boulevard.
Resident Ariane Thereault described this traffic as “absolute chaos.”
“It gets so intense, so backed up,” she said. “You get traffic all the way to Lynnhaven, Rosemont area on the interstate … I don’t understand why they have to go through all of this just for a little holiday or something so simple.”
Police say they’re doing this to help control the larger-than-normal crowds that always show up at the Oceanfront to watch the fireworks.
“Whenever you have a major event, traffic is to be expected,” said Tiffany Russell with the Virginia Beach Conventions and Visitors Bureau. “It’s up to the visitor to plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to get there. Come down here early and experience all the attractions, the restaurants, and then experience the fireworks.”
Russell said that currently low gas prices are an important factor in the expected crowds.
“The hotels are already filling up, several area already sold out. Occupancy for us, historically on this weekend, has been around 98 percent,” Russell said.
Deputy City Manager Steve Cover said in a news release, “For everyone’s safety, we’re encouraging people to arrive early and enjoy all of the amenities at the oceanfront and then be prepared for delays leaving the area.”