Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 15th 2015 Contents A9
February 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
It s an ambitious goal for a couple of engi-
neers: shave hours off the time it takes for
mas bands to make their rounds through the
streets of Port-of-Spain on Carnival Tues-
"If we solve this problem," said transportation
engineer Rae Furlonge this week, "they looking
to give us some kind of national award!"
Furlonge and structural civil engineer Derek
Hamilton have been working for more than a
year to craft changes to the band route to help
solve the age-old problem of congestion and
gridlock that plague the hundreds of trucks
and thousands of masqueraders that proceed
along the pavement each Carnival.
Though masqueraders must always steel
themselves for hours chipping on the road,
participants in recent years have become
increasingly exasperated with prolonged periods
of time dancing in one spot or waiting to cross
Last Monday, in a small room looking out
over the Queen s Park Savannah Grand Stand,
Furlonge and Hamilton presented their rec-
ommendations to Lorraine Pouchet, chairman
of the National Carnival Commission, along
with band leaders and law enforcement officials.
They offered a host of potential alterations to
the route that they believe can cut down on
back-ups and bottlenecks.
One of their principal suggestions: eliminating
distractions on the blocks of Charlotte Street
where revellers pass the National Academy for
the Performing Arts and head toward the south-
east corner of the savannah and the bull track.
They advised officials to create a "sterile zone"---
a section where masqueraders are separated
from spectators and vendors, which would pre-
vent them from slowing down.
"Quite frankly, our ace in the hole for this
year is really the management of the entrance
to the savannah---the sanitised area," Hamilton
said at Monday s meeting.
"It will save you at least four hours," Furlonge
"I saying two-and-a-half," Hamilton inter-
jected. "I m a little more conservative."
In the past, that section of the route has
been a no-music zone. But this year, they re
allowing music because of what Hamilton called
the "Pied Piper" effect: people move more
quickly when they re following along with the
beat of jaunty tunes.
The negotiations over how and where to
tweak the route requires officials to balance the
desire to hasten masqueraders with competing
demands: loyalty to traditional routes, limits
on the numbers of police and marshals able to
manage alternate pathways, fairness to the
needs of the largest and smallest bands.
Hamilton and Furlonge s recommendations
were backed with extensive data from last year s
Carnival, when they placed GPS tracking devices
on the front truck of dozens of bands. That
information gave the engineers insight into
exactly which spots cause the hold-ups. They
identified "critical nodes"---spots where the
bands were slowing down---and worked to
understand what caused the interruption.
In some cases, those interruptions can appear
negligible, but may hold significant conse-
quences. Furlonge and Hamilton estimate that
for every one minute of interruption, there is
four minutes of queueing that occurs further
back in the procession of bands.
That was the problem with the section of
Charlotte Street passing Napa: Well-meaning
masqueraders slowed to greet (or wine on)
friends and family watching from the sidewalk.
Those short diversions, occurring again and
again throughout the day, snowball into major
Another problem: the left turn just after the
stage at South Quay. The distance between the
stage and the turn at Frederick Street had pre-
viously been too tight, forcing trucks to slow
to a crawl to navigate the compact pivot. Now,
they will turn north on Charlotte Street, giving
them a few hundred extra feet.
This year s route also increases the number
of "escape valves"---spots where bands can
veer off the course to bypass traffic or stop for
lunch without interrupting the flow of traffic.
Additionally, in accordance with the engi-
neers recommendations, officials are requiring
that bands gathering in Belmont join the route
at Oxford Street to ease traffic flow.
However, some of the more ambitious ideas
put forward at Monday s meeting were nixed
because of a lack of time and resources. The
engineers proposed placing a platform for Bel-
mont bands to cross into the savannah at Jern-
ingham Avenue, or adding bleachers to Charlotte
Street, but both ideas were deemed too costly
for this year.
Still, the engineers are confident that this
year s routes will be a significant improvement.
Come Carnival Tuesday, Furlonge said he will
also be standing at the southeast corner of the
savannah to watch first-hand how his exper-
iment works. Just like last year, GPS tracking
units will be installed on the bands trucks in
order to garner data on how the route changes
have affected the rate of travel.
Furlonge said the process of tweaking the
route to encourage a smoother flow of bands
and partiers will likely continue for years to
come. Acting Assistant Superintendent Joseph
Chandool agreed in the meeting that coming
up with the most efficient route is a work in
"We sit here and plan, but how it does be
on the ground...nothing really happens the way
we say here," Chandool said.
"Because when you hit the ground, right
there you had to make ten changes, and things
"It s been a hundred years of Carnival, and
we sit down and we still talking Monday before
Carnival about the band route---we ain t get it
right now in a hundred years," Chandool said.
"So we try something this year and see how
it goes, and somewhere along the line I feel
that we getting some things right."
The science behind this year's new Carnival band route...
Tweaking to avoid back-ups, bottlenecks
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