Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik predicts what Sunday afternoon traffic will look like in Brevard.
“It’s going to be so beautiful and a &$^%scene!”
Call it the Great Connection. Alignment of planets. A perfect storm. Or any of a dozen other clichés, but this Sunday afternoon, Brevard is going to experience chaos on local roads.
“Go to the beach, pick a spot early and avoid A1A as much as possible,” Malik said of traffic in his beach town, where thousands of visitors are expected for several events over the weekend, but especially on Sunday.
SpaceX Axiom crew launch
Axiom-2, Axiom Space and SpaceX’s second private space mission to the International Space Station for NASA, is “Go” for launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule. With launch scheduled for 5:37 p.m., many observers will want to wait for the sonic boom nine minutes after liftoff, as SpaceX, with a crew for the first time, will aim for a booster landing at Space Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral. Force station.
“We can expect to see 100,000+ people for a mass launch,” said Peter Granis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism. “We expect this weekend to be very busy and encourage people to plan their routes and times carefully.”
As with all crew launches, when the excitement is over, those same spectators will head home in their cars, head to a Brevard restaurant or some other destination, clogging the east-west traffic arteries from the barrier island to the mainland.
But Kranis is quick to say that this weekend’s reunion is still a fluke — even with the increased release schedule.
“I think it’s a bit unique,” Grannis said of Sunday traffic expectations. “But during crew launches, (residents) should be prepared for heavy crowds.”
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Thunder on Cocoa Beach
Gather thousands of residents and visitors to Space Beach as Thunder is expected in Cocoa Beach. Thunder in Cocoa Beach is billed as one of the Space Coast’s biggest tourism-related events of the year and is expected to bring 100,000 people from the area.
Speedboat races will be held throughout the weekend, but the inshore races will begin on Sunday at 10am with the final race of the day from 2:30pm to 3:30pm from Alan Shepherd Park to Coconut. Many on the beach and in the audience stay long to see the launch.
More than 36,000 people from outside Brevard County came to the Cocoa Beach event last year, and more than 100,000 attended the four-day event, Grenis said.
“From fast boats to fast rockets, it’s no doubt going to be a busy and exciting weekend,” Grannis said.
“A lot of these guys, I’d venture to guess, that day is going to come and stay,” said Kerry Bartlett, managing director of Cocoa Beach’s Thunder promoter, Space Coast Super Boats LLC.
Bartlett said many of those who come to the races plan to come to the launch.
“Maybe not 100,000 more people, maybe 50,000 more people,” he said, adding that parking will be a big issue for people who want to watch the release from the beach. “If the parking lot on the beach is already going to be occupied from the boat race and they know there’s a launch at 5:30, they’re not going to leave that parking spot.”
To avoid traffic and parking frustrations, Bartlett suggested residents walk or bike to beach accesses in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.
See output without race crowd
Residents looking to view the release may want to avoid State Road A1A altogether and consider these alternatives:
- Playlinda Beach, 1000 Playlinda Beach Road, Canaveral National Seashore
- Max Brewer Bridge and Parish Park, 1 A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway, Titusville
- Space View Park, 8 Broad St., Titusville
- Sand Point Park, 10 East Max Brewer Causeway, Titusville
- Rotary Riverfront Park, 4141 S Washington Ave., Titusville
- William J Manzo Memorial Park, 3335 S Washington Ave., Titusville
“Usually in launches like this, pedestrians take over the Max Brewer Bridge,” said Marcia Getke, director of development for the Titusville Playhouse and former executive director of the Titusville Chamber of Commerce.
Titusville should provide easy access to Interstate 95 from US 1 via Garden Street and state roads 50, 405 and 46.
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Other events that can increase traffic
There is a Space Coast Chess Foundation Tournament at the Radisson on the Harbor this weekend. The final day of the event on Sunday will draw players from outside of Brevard with tournaments at 9:30am and 2:30pm.
According to Sean Malone, the foundation Vice-President and Secretary, around 250 players and an additional 100 including parents, organizers, tournament directors etc. participate in this tournament.
Malone warned that some of those finals won’t be over until hours after they start. “A round can last up to four hours,” Malone said. “Not everyone finishes their game at the same time.” Tournament players will check out of the Radisson throughout the afternoon and evening.
On the mainland, 2pm and final show Koko Village Playhouse‘s production of “Mary Poppins” is coming out. Adding nearly 500 people trying to navigate heavy traffic on US 1 and State Road 520 in Cocoa Village.
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Likewise, the 2 pm matinee of Titusville Playhouse’s “Sunday in the Park with George” will depart from 4:30 to 5 p.m.
According to Gaedcke, the playhouse is expecting a crowd of about 250 to 300 people for Sunday’s performance, many of whom are coming from outside Titusville.
Patrons don’t need to worry about parking because they’ll be at the show early to avoid the onslaught of people arriving for the release, but Gateke said traffic exiting the playhouse can be a little tricky.
Rob Landers is a senior multimedia journalist for the USA TODAY Network in Florida. Contact Landers at 321-242-3627 or [email protected]. Instagram: @ByRobLanders Network light: @florida_today