August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

With the Gate folks, on the lonesome highway that won’t be lonesome for long

August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

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It’s a big challenge to get cars to go from 2 lanes up to 16, but no doubt the bigger one is getting them from 16 lanes back down to 2.

That’s how participants make their way in and out of Black Rock City – off a two-lane blacktop roadway onto the desert floor, where the road widens to 16 dusty lanes.

“It’s got to be one of the biggest roads in the world,” GSN (Glow Stick Ninja) says as he lines up row after row after row of orange cones. “Sixteen lanes is pretty big,” the Indeed it is, and Gate Road this year is about four and half miles long.

That’s the road that will seem endless as you make your way to the city, and then again as you head back from where you came.

The Gate, Perimeter and Exodus crew have loads on the plate to make ingress and egress from the city safe and at least somewhat sane, and it begins with finding an appropriate route through the desert from the highway to the event site.

Here’s the good news: The rough weather that hit the playa this week has really tamped down the road. Dust was at a minimum as the crew did its thing, but we’ll just have to see how long the hardpack lasts. “This was a lake for a couple of days,” GSN says.

GSN in his natural habitat

GSN in his natural habitat

It’s hard to get one’s head around just how many cones are used in guiding folks into Black Rock City. “We’ve got a whole container full of them,” GSN says. We’re not good at this, but let’s do a little math: 4.5 miles, 16 lanes, a cone in each lane every 100 feet or so … yes, that’s a lot of cones. And that number doesn’t take into account the “diamonds” in the road that that guide drivers from 16 lanes down to 8 down to 4 and then down to 2.

The crew has a hard deadline; tomorrow morning, the Gate road will open for guests who will be visiting for Early Man (the mini-burns the crews stage).

Feral Kid, Nacho, GSN and Knotty Boy

Feral Kid, Nacho, GSN and Knotty Boy

They center-lined the whole thing so the cones would line up squarely, and they stuck little blue flags in the ground that are guiding their way now. They also did all the stake-pounding for the flags on either side of the road, but without all the hoo-hah of  Fence day. “There wasn’t a dawn patrol, but for us it’s a fairly big event.” They got some help from their DPW brethren for the task, and they had the whole thing done in a matter of hours. The Gate helps the DPW, and the DPW helps the Gate. It’s a two-way street. 

“Blue Cross (Seth Schrentzel) was a genius when he designed this road,” GSN says, and the care is most apparent when the road makes its curves around the desert floor. “He loves cones. Cone is his spirit animal.” The motivating idea is to make the difficult merges as fair as possible.

There are a few new wrinkles this year, like the “Reunification” areas, so if you become separated from your car (say when you’ve gone to the PortaPotty and your car has moved forward in line), you have a way of reconnecting.

On a day like today, the work is not unpleasant. There is virtually no dust, the temperature isn’t blazing hot, and Black Rock City is barely visible in the distance. “It does get lonely, though” Knotty Boy says. “It’s kind of like we’re lost at sea.”

Lost in a sea of orange and tan, cones and dust, pushing toward the horizon.

Rows of cones stretch literally for miles

Rows of cones stretch literally for miles

 

The plan for merging lanes

The plan for merging lanes

 

Knotty Boy rolled up the measuring line

Knotty Boy rolled up the measuring line

The mark of the people who work the Gate

The mark of the people who work the Gate

Cones-eye-view

Cones-eye-view

Feral Kid

Feral Kid

 

 


4 Responses to “With the Gate folks, on the lonesome highway that won’t be lonesome for long”

  1. Ron Says:

    Sixteen lanes! It’s been eight lanes the last few years, hasn’t it? Is this a mad attempt to prevent the backup from extending past Empire?

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  2. Dizzle Says:

    Nah…. Was 16 lanes last year – helps spread the stress of all the cars on the playa….

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  3. Sparkle Says:

    The good news is that new Gate Crew never confiscates items not on the list of items to be confiscated (valuables and top shelf alcohol, etc) – I have this on good authority. It is never supposed to happen, and is largely a thing of the past.

    In light of this good news, it’s always a good idea for Burners to keep an eye on their possessions while they are being inspected by a member of Gate Crew. This is in order to help them help you to retain all of your belongings after they are finished. If a member of Gate Crew accidentally brings out a bottle of Patron from your rig, you can gently remind him or her that it belongs to you. If you are not keeping an eye on your belongings during the raid- I mean, inspection, then you will be unhelpful in identifying your possessions as they exit your vehicle.

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  4. Pony Says:

    Hey Sparkle, aren’t you the guy that tried to sneak in with me inside of a honey truck last year? Wow, was that ever a bad idea! Sorry to have put you through that, man; but that’s no reason to take it out on the Gate Crew. Catching us was their job, bro.

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