WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) – Watkins Glen has the green flag for racing to return to the Southern Tier. Go Bowling at The Glen will feature a series of four races, culminating in the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday.
Local officials are still unsure of how big the crowds will be this year. Traffic patterns will be a concern for local law enforcement, who are trying to keep cars and campers moving. Several roads will convert to a one-way traffic pattern. County Route 16 will have two westbound lanes from Route 414 and two eastbound lanes from Townsend Rd. to Gate 2. For a full list of traffic details, see the Sheriff’s statement below.
“One of our biggest concerns with traffic is the people that are driving in and out daily,” Sheriff William Yessman added.
It is important to keep a close eye on updated road signs as well as law enforcement personnel who will be directing traffic through early next week. Monday will also be a heavy traffic day, especially in the Village of Watkins Glen. Campers are allowed to stay at the track overnight Sunday into Monday, making the early week commutes a challenge.
Economically, businesses, hotels, wineries, restaurants, and more are gearing up for the weekend, especially for fans who are staying a bit longer to enjoy everything Watkins Glen and the Finger Lakes have to offer.
“They [fans] came a little longer last year,” Michael Hardy, executive director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “We had a lot of race fans come even though the races weren’t here, and they were really pleasantly surprised that there was a whole other [side of] Watkins Glen and the Finger Lakes. I do think they discovered some of the tasting rooms more. I do think they discovered some of the restaurants.”
Hardy is hoping that fans come early and stay late to explore the outdoor and indoor attractions. Compared to 2019, 2020 was a more consistent tourism year for the area. Two years ago was a record-breaking year for Watkins Glen in terms of visitors and tourism. After outdoor activities became more popular last year, tourists flooded in, breaking the record again. Now, businesses are hoping for an even stronger 2021 season.
“I would just say it’s a different strong [in 2020]. Couples and families travel differently than race fans or any sports fans. I think the pulse starting Wednesday will be far greater than what we saw in 2020,” Scott Bell, general manager of the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, added.
Area businesses and community leaders are excited to welcome back racing fans in August. They are gassed up and ready to race.
“Welcome back. It’s time to get the checkered flag going,” Bell concluded.
Statement from Schuyler County Sheriff on Traffic Patterns:
“On Sunday, August 8, 2021, we expect a large volume of traffic on County Route 16 because of the large influx of cars coming to the race circuit. As a result, it is necessary that we use County Route 16, as one-way traffic with three lanes of traffic going from State Route 414 to Gate 2 of the Race Track, and two lanes of traffic from Townsend Road to Kuhl Winner Way. There will still be one lane of traffic from Bronson Hill Road to Townsend Road. This will start at around 6:00 a.m. and last until 3:00 p.m. At 9:00 am, Kuhl Winner Way will be a one-way road southbound from County Route 16 to Gate #5, and northbound from Bronson Hill Road to Gate #6. It was necessary to make this a part of our traffic pattern due to the growth of persons attending the event, as has been seen over the past several years.
If you are attending church services, shopping or going to Watkins Glen, and you live along this route, it is advisable if you live between C.R. 17 and Meads Hill Road, you travel west in the traffic to Meads Hill and go north to State Route 329 and into Watkins Glen or left on Meads Hill to Wedgewood Road to State Route 414. Then you can turn right for Corning or left to Watkins Glen or Montour Falls. Persons living between Meads Hill Road and the track are requested to get into traffic and go to Townsend and then take the Watkins – Townsend Road to Watkins Glen.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on this Sunday afternoon, there will be only one-way traffic on County Route 16 with three lanes coming from the race track towards State Route 414 (traffic light) and then traffic will proceed two lanes down into the Village of Watkins Glen. This traffic is expected to last for more than 3 hours. There will also be one-way traffic, two lanes, going down Kuhl Winner Way from gate #6 to State Route 414. There will also be two lanes of traffic going from gate #5 and #4 on Kuhl Winner Way to County Route 16. All traffic coming off from Kuhl Winner Way will be three lanes and diverted in Townsend to County Route 16, County Route 19, or the Watkins-Townsend Road, preferably through the State Park, to the Station Road, and down into the Village through Steuben Street.
Plans are in place with Emergency Services to respond to emergencies during the egress period for the safety of the residents in that area. Sheriff’s patrols also will be in the area should there be any problems.
We apologize for any inconvenience this traffic pattern may cause you, but it is necessary for us to move a large volume of traffic in the shortest period of time for the safety of everyone. Please remember that these times are approximate and can change due to weather. Traffic patterns on Monday will be normal, but there will be a large volume of traffic leaving the race track that day also, so delays will occur.”