Construction on the second phase of Marietta's River Trail hiking and biking pathway will make getting in and out of the Lafayette Hotel parking lot a little different for this year's guests during the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, Sept. 11 to 13.
"We're most concerned for newcomers to our area who are staying at the hotel that weekend," said Tisha Locke, banquet and activities manager at the Lafayette.
When work began on the trail two weeks ago, Post Street, located directly behind the hotel, became a permanent one-way thoroughfare running north between Ohio and Butler streets, meaning drivers can only turn right when exiting the hotel parking lot onto Post Street.
That's not a big problem currently as traffic can enter or exit the hotel lot at Front Street. But during the Sternwheel Festival, the 100 block of Front Street is generally closed to traffic to provide space for vendors, which would prevent guests from being able to access the hotel parking lot.
Marietta safety-service director Chad Presley said the city engineering and development departments have been working on the problem with the Lafayette staff.
"This will be the first year for the festival with the one-way designation on Post Street," he said. "And we wanted to find a way to allow the Lafayette clients access to the lot from Front Street without interfering with vendors who will be located in that area."
Presley noted that during the festival, vendor suppliers and trash haulers access the festival grounds, including the Lafayette parking lot, by maneuvering around the Front Street barricades. He said hotel guests could do the same.
Development director Mike Stocky agreed.
"The hotel guests will simply do the same thing as the utilitarian traffic in that area," he said. "They can drive around the barricades, but should travel slowly and be very alert to any pedestrians in the roadway."
Stocky said the guests would be allowed to enter the hotel lot from Front Street and exit the lot onto Post Street during the festival.
"My suggestion to the hotel management was to issue a pass that could be placed in clients' windshields, identifying them as Lafayette guests," he said.
Locke said the hotel is currently developing parking passes that will be used during the Sternwheel Festival weekend. But she is concerned for out-of-towners staying at the hotel that weekend.
"People from the local area will find their way around, but new visitors may still become confused by the traffic pattern," she said.