Fairfield residents should not plan on making a “quick” trip to the grocery store on July 25.
The trip will be anything but quick, because 20,000 RAGBRAI riders and support staff will descend on Fairfield that day. Fairfield RAGBRAI has released a map showing how riders will enter town, where they will camp, and how they will leave town the following morning.
Michael Halley, one of Fairfield RAGBRAI’s executive chairs, reviewed the map with the city council during its meeting Monday. The main point Halley stressed was that residents should do all their shopping the day before on July 24. Not only will the cyclists be buzzing through town the following day, but so will their vans, buses and RVs, all going to the stores to fetch provisions.
The cyclists will start the day in Centerville before passing through Leando, Douds, Libertyville and then finally Fairfield on Libertyville Road. One group will break off from the rest and head north on 32nd Street, where they will turn east on West Madison Avenue and then walk their bikes a short distance to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Halley said they’re taking this route to avoid going to busy Burlington Avenue.
The rest of the riders will continue on Libertyville Road until it intersects with Key Boulevard, which they will take onto Liberty Drive and Fillmore. The largest campground is the space being set aside at Pence Elementary School, Fairfield Middle School and O.B. Nelson Park.
Some riders will go north on Seventh Street to camp by the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center. Others will continue east on Fillmore turn north on D Street for the campgrounds at Wilson Park and Washington Elementary School.
The last two groups of riders will set up their tents at Fairfield High School and Chautauqua Park.
Halley noted that some large grassy areas that would be ideal for camping, such as the Dexter Apache soccer fields, Heritage Park or Waterworks Park, are not being used. Why? Because they are north of the railroad tracks. RAGBRAI asks hosting towns to avoid sending riders over railroad tracks as a safety precaution.
The riders’ support vehicles have been asked to take the exit closest to their campground, so those staying in the Jefferson County Fairgrounds would exit Highway 34 on the west side, those staying at O.B. Nelson would take the exit south of town, and those staying at Chautauqua Park/FHS would take the east exit.
“We’re trying to avoid putting riders on Burlington Avenue, because we imagine the majority of traffic will take the first exit on Highway 34 [west of town],” Halley said.
The city of Fairfield has not announced if it will close streets yet, but Halley says it will likely block off some streets.
“We need to keep the main thoroughfares open, but the organizers are advising locals not to drive around that day,” he said. “The support vehicles will clog the streets, and then we’ll have riders on top of that. The streets will be very crowded.”
Halley said the peak of support vehicle traffic will be that morning, with peak cycling traffic between noon and 5 p.m.
Riders will leave town the following morning by getting onto Glasgow Road. Campers at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, O.B. Nelson, Wilson Park, Washington Elementary School and Roosevelt Community Recreation Center will all make their way to Madison Avenue, which they will take east until it intersects with Glasgow. Halley strongly encourages residents not to use Madison Avenue the morning of July 26. He said most riders would leave town by 9 a.m.
Fairfield RAGBRAI is paying for a shuttle bus service for the riders to get from their campgrounds to the downtown, where all the entertainment is planned. Halley said the group is working with Mark Branch, Fairfield schools’ transportation director, since it will be using the school’s buses and drivers.
Halley said Fairfield RAGBRAI hopes to recoup its expenses through the beverage garden it will set up in the downtown that day.
“That is our revenue stream,” he said. “If we cover our costs and are able to make a profit, the extra money goes back into the community in the form of grants.”