Traffic clogs North Shore as tailgaters arrive early for Jason Aldean concert

Despite warnings to fans hoping to spend most of the day partying before a major country music concert tonight at PNC Park, people began trying to get into North Shore parking lots before noon today.

For several hours today, Pittsburgh Police tried to dissuade drivers from trying to wait to get into lots and directed them away from surface lots near the stadium until 1:45 p.m. today, when they finally began letting them in as traffic began clogging local streets.

After the debacle of drunkenness, fights, trash and arrests at the June 21 Luke Bryan country music concert at Heinz Field, the city said it would impose new restrictions designed to curtail those problems.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and the Pirates announced that there would not be all-day tailgating for the 38,000 fans expected for tonight's concert featuring Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Miranda Lambert.

The new rules prevented the surface lots from opening until 2 p.m. -- 3½ hours before PNC Park opens for the concerts. No tailgating will be allowed in parking garages and some areas would have enforced alcohol bans and other restrictions.

With music blaring from pick-up truck stereos, tailgates were well underway by 2:30 p.m. in parking lots surrounding PNC Park.

Fans donning cowboy hats, jean shorts and more than a few American flags roamed W. General Robinson Street with beer cans in hand — if they were lucky enough to have secured a parking spot.

Kelli Kimberling, 20, of Mt. Washington said she and a friend were dropped off at the concert because of the heavy traffic, so they wouldn’t have to look for parking. It was in short supply by 2:30 p.m., as tailgates were well underway in lots surrounding PNC Park. 

Cars were lined up bumper to bumper along W. General Robinson and North Shore Drive by mid-afternoon.

Police are also now going to make a check of all North Shore parking lots after the first act, Tyler Farr -- who goes on at about 6:45 p.m. -- is over, and those with tickets will be ushered into the show and those without tickets will be told to leave. Also, those who leave PNC after being admitted will not be able to return.

In areas near the surface lots, the city promised to strictly enforce alcohol and littering rules, so people don't simply try to move the tailgating tradition to city neighborhoods.

The city did not ban overnight boat docking for this concert, but officials are considering introducing legislation banning it for special events, as well as banning "rafting" where boaters tie up in long, rows with only one vessel connected to shore.

First Published July 26, 2014 12:00 AM

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