MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A busy Fourth of July weekend means major traffic changes for downtown Memphis. This will be the first big event in downtown since Riverside Drive was cut down to two lanes. The other two are for bikes and pedestrians.
Organizers of the celebration hope Friday's changes will alleviate some of the past traffic troubles. They tell us police are shutting down Riverside Drive in the evening and rerouting traffic to other downtown streets. The new two-lane configuration of Riverside just wouldn't accommodate all the traffic.
"That will help to eliminate the traffic jam to get on Riverside Drive. We've had huge problems there in the past even with the old configuration, with the new configuration, it just won't handle it," said Benny Lenderman, with Riverfront Development Corporation.
Another big change is there will be no parking in Tom Lee Park. You can come and enjoy the park, but you must leave your car somewhere else.
"It just locks up Riverside Drive for hours so we're going to prohibit parking there, and like Memphis in May, you just park in downtown and walk down to the park," said Lenderman.
Those who live downtown like the idea of controlling traffic to and from Tom Lee.
"I think it's a good idea. I think it's a really good idea. Keep all the cars out and better flow," said Shara Goldin, a resident of downtown Memphis.
It will be a better flow so when Chantay Hart brings her grandchildren back Friday for the Fourth of July fireworks, they can focus on fun, not the frustrations of traffic.
"We got beautiful scenery down here so peace of mind. I love it down here," said Hart, also a resident of downtown Memphis.
Riverside Drive won't be closed all day. It will be open in the early part of the day and it will close likely around 7 p.m. The fireworks show starts about 9:45 p.m.
After the show, they will reopen Riverside, but traffic will only flow south. Organizers believe that will help eliminate a lot of the frustration that comes from leaving a crowded downtown Memphis.