Take Monday morning rush hour in north-central Brevard County, when school buses and commuters back up at busy intersections.
Add to that the roughly 40,000 people who will board and disembark on five large cruise ships scheduled to depart Port Canaveral on Monday.
Then gather 100,000 to 500,000 spectators, most trying to maneuver as far as possible to the beach and Indian River Lagoon to witness the historic moon launch of NASA’s Artemis I. This was the first unscheduled test flight of the Artemis program.
“Think safety first. Watch out for pedestrians because there’s going to be a lot of people crossing the road. And think about delays,” said Brevard County Communications Director Dan Walker.
“If you’re going to be stuck in traffic for two or three hours, you’re going to want to get water. You will want to have some food with you. So if you’re stuck in a long line and you’re not moving, think about what you need to be prepared for,” Walker said.
“And it’s August. It’s going to be hot,” he said.
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When is Artemis I launched?
Artemis I’s two-hour launch window opens at 8:33 a.m. Monday. The 322-foot Space Launch System, an uncrewed Orion capsule, is set to make its first launch from Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center and begin a 42-day journey.
Walker said tourism and space officials estimate 100,000 to 500,000 visitors could enter the county to begin with. Officials will activate the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center in Rockledge at 4 a.m., 2½ hours before the two-hour pre-launch rocket launch.
“We expect to start seeing an unusual number of cars on the road around 2 a.m.,” Walker said Monday morning.
“There will be gridlock in some areas. There will be full parking lots. “There will be a lot of people on the coast, especially from the central to the northern part of the district,” he said.
“So be prepared for delays – leave early. The earlier you leave, the better,” he said.
When to expect transit delays from Artemis I launch
The Space Coast Traffic Planning Organization says heavy traffic will be expected between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday. The agency shares post-launch traffic tips for this “epic event”:
- In Cocoa Beach, no left turns are allowed from northbound State Road A1A to westbound State Road 520.
- In Titusville, A. All lanes of the Max Brewer Bridge will be closed for about an hour immediately after the launch to allow more pedestrian traffic.
After the launch, police will direct Titusville motorists near the bridge to go north on Harrison Street or West Garden Street. All visitors north of Harrison Street will be directed north onto State Road 46.
After a meeting with law enforcement officials Thursday morning, FDOT announced that U-turns will be prohibited at State Road 528 and King George Boulevard in Port Canaveral, spokesman David Parks said.
Brevard Public Schools communications officials at the EOC will send traffic updates to parents as the morning progresses, district spokesman Russell Bruhn said.
Revised Bus Routes:Brevard Public Schools Alters Bus Routes to Avoid Starting Artemis Traffic Tie-Ups
The massive SLS rocket:NASA ‘Goes’ to Launch Massive SLS Rocket for Artemis I Mission to Moon
BPS will adjust bus routes as necessary and provide district-wide notifications to parents through email, bus notices and updates. Posted on the district Facebook page.
The Cocoa Beach Police Department monitors traffic signals and traffic flow within the city.
“Residents should plan accordingly and stay off the roads if possible to avoid being caught in this traffic jam,” Cocoa Beach City Hall officials posted on Facebook last week.
Port Canaveral is preparing for an influx of missile spectators to Jetty Park for Monday’s planned launch — and a Lockheed Martin private launch party on the lawn of the Exploration Tower that could draw 3,000 people.
Cruise ships dock during Artemis I launch
The launch is scheduled on a day when five major cruise ships are in port: Carnival Freedom and Liberty, Disney Wish and Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas.
A total of about 40,000 people will board or disembark those ships that day, said Peter Bergeron, the port’s senior director of public safety and security.
Bergeron expects cargo-related truck traffic for the day at the port.
“It’s going to take an all-out effort from our shipping partners and the entire Canaveral Port Authority staff to do that,” Bergeron said.
Port Canaveral CEO John Murray said, “We are working with state and local law enforcement agencies and coordinating with our shipping partners to ensure we are focused on safety and security for all port users. Bottom line — this launch day will mean more traffic on the roads in and around Port Canaveral. It can get very busy with tons of traffic.Best advice to anyone planning to be in Port Canaveral for the day, please allow extra time.
Jetty Park will open at 5am on launch day and close to new arrivals once capacity is reached. Parking is for electronic pass holders only. Parking passes must be purchased in advance. No cash or credit card transactions are allowed at the entry booth. Walkers or bicyclists are allowed to enter the park until capacity is reached.
Parking in the Cove area of the harbor is limited to patrons and employees of Cove-area businesses. Spaces close when maximum vehicle capacity is reached.
Parking in cruise parking garages and surface lots is for cruise passengers only.
The harbor’s Freddie Patrick boat ramps and Rodney S. Ketchum Park boat ramps vehicle and trailer parking are open and available to boaters on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. Boat ramp parking spaces are limited to boat vehicles and trailers using boat ramps.
No parking or missile viewing on State Road 401, King George Boulevard, other harbor roads or the State Road 528 median.
The State Road 401 bridge will not be open to traffic Monday from 7:30 a.m. to noon.