Traffic Man 2015: Entry Pain For Thousands

Traffic this year appears to have been among the worst ever.

From Voices of Burning Man:

We are experiencing significant traffic delays due to slow vehicles on Highway 447. Estimated delays are up to 8 hours to reach Gerlach from Wadsworth. We recommend participants wait in Reno or elsewhere for several hours until the congestion is cleared.

For your own safety, if you’re stopped on Highway 447, please remain in your vehicle. And do not park on the shoulder of Interstate 80 — find an off ramp and park on a side road.

We will update this message with new information as soon as it becomes available.

You can also hear updates by tuning in to BMIR or by following @bmantraffic on Twitter.

[UPDATE: 8/31/15 2:00am]

At this time, the drive from Wadsworth to Gerlach is taking about 5 1/2 hours. Stay safe out there!


Once you get to Gerlach, it takes hours to get to the 8-mile entrance, and hours more to get to the Gate. The good news is right now, it’s “only” about 3 hours from Wadsworth all the way to the gate.

The “pulsing” system was used for cars on the way in, leaving large areas of gap with no cars in them, while many stayed still for up to 2 hours before moving forward as little as 500 feet.

Last night, there was an 8 hour plus wait even to get to Gerlach.

Even in the 140-character Twitter format, BMOrg couldn’t just report the facts about this situation. They had to put a spin on, one that absolved themselves of any responsibility by placing the blame on others. In this case, vehicles moving too slowly were responsible. I mean, really?

BMIR, on the other hand, was saying that the delay was due to people getting out of their cars. Sure, just sit still in your car for 12 hours while BMOrg sorts the gate out.

Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.47.25

Burners were not invited to resume their journey until 5:30am Monday

Burner Jerrod put together this graph:

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Here are some of the statistics from 2014, which link arrival and departure time to hours of travel:

2014 arrival times

2014 departure times[Source: Reddit, compiled from @bmantraffic hourly updates]

For many Burners last year, once they got to the Gate they had a long wait ahead of them, because Burning Man was unexpectedly closed due to rain.

Another Burner compiled this list of Exodus times from 2011-2013, based on information from Reddit.

2011 to 2013 exodus times

[Source: Reddit]

The RGJ brings us some highway safety information from the Nevada Highway Patrol:

Burners Leave Hazardous Objects on Roadways

Every year, several drivers crash because of unusual objects that fall on the roadways, NHP Trooper Duncan Dauber said Sunday.

“(The Interstate 80) will be a real mess during the week,” Dauber said. “Drivers should watch out for very odd things from tricycles to couches to mattress and bags of trash.

“Almost every year there are accidents.”

Dauber said Burners tend to drive vehicles that are oversized and carrying large objects that aren’t tied down properly.

“When they pack everything they pack it nice and neat, but when they leave they accumulate trash and maybe don’t have extra cables to strap things down,” Dauber said.

“When they’re leaving, they’re extremely exhausted, and they’ve been out on the sun for a week, and it’s time for them to leave, so they don’t pack everything as tight as they should.”

Dauber said I-80 westbound between Fernley and Reno usually is a hot spot for fallen objects. The Nevada Highway Patrol often receive multiple calls every year of debris falling off vehicles, he said.

“Even though most people are already at Burning Man, some people still continue to flow through there,” Dauber said.

[Source: RGJ]

Burners tried to make the most of it all and keep morale high. The picture being painted on social media was a little more grim than from BMOrg’s description.

Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.16.32Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.35.46Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.09.05Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.15.07Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.10.33Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.11.34Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.13.02Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.41.46Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.34.50Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.14.01

big backpack

In other news, Burners got some celebrity shout-outs on Social Media. We doubt any of them are stranded in traffic.


11 comments on “Traffic Man 2015: Entry Pain For Thousands

  1. My secret to getting out peaceful last time I went? I left on Thursday before the man burned. It was bliss. The gate people couldn’t believe we were leaving.

    • I can beat that, easy. I skipped all the BRC traffic this year. I stayed home. NYC has that whole “traffic” thing worked out pretty good.

      BTW, after you left early last time we all got together in the first BRC-wide conclave and talked about you. But we have all been sworn to secrecy.

  2. leaving on Sunday, it didn’t look like there were “officials” pulsing traffic. There would be big gaps between Gerlach/Empire, Pyramid lake/Nixon, Nixon/Wadsworth. A few breakdowns can back shit up for miles. People just love to hang out and party when they are stuck. Bad idea. These two girls were riding thier bikes up the opposite side. When I asked them what/why/where they just said “oh we just had to get out and stretch our legs” They really were not thinking about anything but fun times. They agreed that they were being dumb and waited for thier party to catch up to them. Overall, it was a bad situation on 447. Im just glad I had EA passes for Friday… yeah, I got stuck at gate for 7+ hours but that’s another story!

    • It would help the newbies, and near newbies, whom do not have gasoline in due of they are not of the knowledge of there is near to zero gasoline from Wadsworth to the playa, and for the trip in return. Might the difficulties have been, in actuality, in due of pulsing on the roads, or might the difficulties have been solely in due of accidents, and vehicle issues, in addendum of people obtaining food, and lights, and doing attempts to obtain gasoline, within Empire, and within Gerlach? The gent whom stated do not purchase gasoline within Wadsworth in due of the price of the gasoline was too big did not do favours to the newbies, and near newbies, whom were most of the vehicles halted within the traffic. Might there be difficulties in exodus, might more difficulties occur in due of numerous people not have the proper amount of gasoline within their vehicles, in due of the difficulties in entrance?

      By appearances, there were no difficulties at the Gate, perchance, in due of the difficulties prior of the Gate halted vehicles from driving to the Gate.

      • As far as I know this is the first time they’ve done the pulsing on the way in. I would hope they set it up to allow as many as possible near to the towns to support the local economies while they were waiting for the next pulse.

        Clear communication would go a long way in these situations; hourly updates from @bmantraffic don’t add much.

        • Information is power, and must be conserved. Can you imagine how hard it is to figure out how to spin all this for the tweets? The stress on them must be crazy. Sort of like being an ATC controller, but instead of the lives of hundreds of people it’s your job on the line. Hard to see how you could come out ahead.

        • Pulsing has worked really well during exodus, so I guess they decided to try it during entry? Doesn’t seem to have worked out so well. Not only that, I can’t imagine the local communities taking too kindly to having their major traffic artery, and actual highway, being at a standstill for many miles. I’m with you guys on this one, major BMORG fail here.

          That said, it’s straight up dumb to try to get through during the first 12 hours. You’ll get there MAYBE by very early Monday morning and be exhausted. Better to plan to reach Gerlach between early Monday evening to Tuesday morning. That’s been my sweet spot for many years, I’ve NEVER had to wait in traffic on the road, and once I hit the playa, I’m in camp by 2 hours later at the most. Of course, it’s never a guarantee, but it’s never failed for me so far.

        • One thing though, the pulsing was happening on 447? I don’t think BMORG has the authority to do that, so I’m guessing that was a law enforcement decision? Either way, it absolutely should have been communicated ahead of time that pulsing was going to happen during entry. Maybe they did communicate that? Anyone know?

          • I am in agreement, Gate did not pulse on 447. Gate has a new flagger at the beginnings of 447, within Wadsworth, but, this was not the cause of the difficulties on 447.

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