Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Traffic concerns prompt change in relay dates

Citing concerns about traffic, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office has asked the organizers of a two-day running relay to move the run from January to the less busy month of February.

The organizers of the Ragnar Relay have agreed to move the date of the 200-mile relay race that goes from Miami to Key West from the first week of January -- which also marks the annual arrival of seasonal residents and tourists -- to the first week in February, said Sheriff's Capt. Gene Thompson.

"January is just not good with the influx of snowbirds and visitors," Thompson said.

Relay organizers will meet with Thompson and other sheriff's office officials on March 19 to discuss logistics of the race and how to keep traffic flowing along U.S. Highway 1, Thompson said.

Monroe County commissioners received a barrage of phone calls from angry residents after the 2012 relay. They complained about how the race backed up traffic on U.S. 1 for hours.

Following the 2012 relay, organizers agreed to disqualify teams whose support vans slowed down to talk with runners.

This year, residents complained about the amount of trash that was left along U.S. 1 and traffic in the area from Cudjoe Key to Summerland Key, Thompson said.

Thompson acknowledged that water bottles and other trash was left behind the day of the race, as runners and their support teams were busy racing down the Keys, but he said event organizers cleaned it up within 48 hours.

The Sheriff's Office and relay officials have been in discussions since the last race. Sheriff's officials are already proposing no left turns across U.S. 1 during that time. They also suggest that support vehicles be "clearly marked," Thompson said.

Thompson does not want to cancel the relay.

"Why not let them keep coming down as long as they are not having a negative impact?" Thompson asked.

Ragnar Relay organizers did not return telephone messages on Monday.


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