Part and parcel with any extravaganza the size of The Great State of Maine Air Show taking to the skies this weekend in Brunswick is the traffic.

Those who have lived in the area over past decades when the Navy put on air shows experienced the arrival and exodus of as many as 200,000 people who came to see the free events.

The Brunswick Naval Air Station has been closed, however, and the property, renamed Brunswick Landing, is undergoing redevelopment.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said MRRA hosted the first civilian air show charging admittance last year, with Sunday’s schedule rained out due to a hurricane. This coming weekend, with plenty of sunshine forecast, MRRA hopes to have at least between 40,000 and 60,000 people attend the second civilian air show at Brunswick Landing — this one featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and other performers.

Parking lots for the air show open Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m., and the gates open at 9 a.m., according to Deputy Chief Marc Hagan of the Brunswick Police Department. Vehicles can access Brunswick Landing through the main entrance on Bath Road, as well as through the back entrance on Route 123 through the golf course, known as the Dyers Gate. Hagan noted the Dyers Gate will close at noon.

The air show starts at 9:30 a.m.

There will be three points of exit following the shows, at the main gate, Dyers Gate, and also the Purington Road gate that takes vehicles to Coombs Road and to Route 24.

Levesque said MRRA has contracted with the Brunswick Police Department to provide traffic control and Hagan said there will 31 police and communications officers working both days for the department. They will mainly work outside Brunswick Landing and will be assisted on Brunswick Landing property by the Cumberland County and Sagadahoc County sheriff ’s departments.

Officers will be posted along Bath, Federal, Maine and Pleasant street intersections.

Because last year’s attendance was skewed by Sunday’s rain out, Hagan said he is hopeful the weather will foster a good turnout this weekend, which will give police a more accurate picture of how many vehicles the civilian air shows will draw.

Parking on the base will cost $5 for all vehicles, Levesque said, and all of this money goes toward several charities, and there are opportunities for nonprofit organizations with members willing to volunteer at concession booths, for example, to get a portion of these funds. Levesque advised nonprofits to contact Suzanne Krauss, Airport Operations coordinator at Brunswick Executive Airport, to inquire about opportunities for volunteering.

The event is well organized and once vehicles enter Brunswick Landing, Levesque said, folks will be directed every step of the way. Members of the Civil Air Patrol and Sea Cadets will be in uniform helping provide security.

As people line up at the gate to get into the air show, many having bags or backpacks should be prepared for gate workers to look in their bags to make sure they haven’t brought anything that will cause a problem, such as any substances of potential hazard or explosive. People also won’t be allowed to bring alcohol beverages, as there will be alcohol available at the show.

“The earlier they get there, the less they’ll have to sit in traffic,” Levesque said. “We’ll have people directing them and we’ll make it as painless as possible.”

Police are asking for patience.

“The mission of the Brunswick Police Department is to provide safe, orderly access and egress for the general public and the 2012 Great State of Maine Air Show,” Hagan said. “We can’t do this without the assistance of the public, however. We are requesting that everyone be patient while attempting to gain access to the venue, and when people are attempting to (exit) Brunswick Landing property. If so, we believe this could be a safe and pleasant event for all persons involved.”

Topsham Police Chief Christopher Lewis said all members of his force will be on deck this weekend. There will be extra officers monitoring traffic and working to maintain the flow of vehicles.

In particular they will keep an eye on the Route 196 Coastal Connector near Route 1, and Route 196 near the Topsham Fair Mall to keep traffic from backing up to Interstate-295.

“Obviously, we’d like to see it be a minimal impact to the town of Topsham, but we have no way of telling just how many people will be attending this event, so we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Lewis said.


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