Life Is Beautiful With Barricades

MOB Traffic Frames A Masterpiece In Downtown Las Vegas.  

Life is Beautiful is one of the most successful festivals in the world and has one of the largest event footprints of any held in Las Vegas. It meanders more than 18 city blocks, extending from 7th to 11th Street and from Mesquite to Carson Avenue. Its venues include seven main stages, several event areas, pop-up bars, marketplaces, and brand experiences.

This year’s diverse lineup includes scores of musicians, authors, artists, culinary chefs, podcasters, and comedians: Bille Eilish, Annie Lederman, Green Day, 6Lack, Chef Kingsley Hall, Deepak Chopra, Odie, Modest Mouse, Camille Walala, and Marcella Arguello to name a few. These artists deliver simultaneous, nonstop performances filling three entire days, starting as early as 3 p.m. and ending around midnight (festival gates are open 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily).

Along with performers, the Life is Beautiful footprint becomes home to more than 70 local and regional restaurants and bars, acclaimed chefs and mixologists, food trucks, and world-class fine dining experiences. Most of these culinary and cocktail stops are set up outside on more than 280,000 square feet of sod that Life is Beautiful promoters roll out every year, transforming Downtown Las Vegas into an urban greenscape punctuated with large-scale art installations.

“Except for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, which spans the entire Las Vegas Strip, no other event has a larger footprint in Las Vegas,” says Paul Ames, special events manager for Masters of Barricades (MOB Traffic). “When you add logistics, it’s much larger than 18 festival blocks and requires sustained management for weeks.”

On any given day, the color-coded grid that Ames reviews daily might extend as far east as Maryland Parkway, as far south as Bridger Avenue, and as far north as Bonanza Road. During the festival, he oversees the shutdown of Las Vegas Boulevard from Stewart Avenue to Clark Avenue. And to help alleviate congestion during load-out, the team closes down several off-ramps on Interstate 95 on the last night.

“For Life is Beautiful, the build-out starts as early as Aug. 30, and MOB Traffic starts assisting with closures as early as Sept. 6,” said Ames. “Our role isn’t limited to closures. Before any closures begin, we set up no parking signage 72 hours in advance, giving everyone in the area time to move their cars.”

As the work nears the festival date, MOB traffic moves, manages, and expands its traffic and pedestrian management presence to meet the needs of Life is Beautiful for load-in, always working in tandem with the City of Las Vegas and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. At the same time, the dedicated special events team at MOB and Life is Beautiful work with area residents and business tenants to ensure they have access.

“It requires a significant amount of coordination because, unlike most traffic management jobs, you aren’t moving people away from an area,” he said. “You are literally drawing people into the area every night — as many as 60,000 attendees, performers, and festival staff members plus anyone who isn’t attending but lives in the Ogden Condominiums, stays at the El Cortez, or wants a Big Gulp at 7-Eleven.”

Details such as tenant access underscore the importance of traffic and pedestrian management beyond the apparent objectives of barricade placement, traffic flow, and safety. Ames says that it’s part of MOB Traffic’s job to minimize the frustration of anyone who lives in proximity, anyone rerouted even if they are not attending, and anyone attending the event.

“Traffic and pedestrian management, including directional signage, is often the first and last event experience associated with any festival or special event,” says Ames. “So we are always looking for new ways to make it even easier to take an alternate route, locate event parking, walk safely to a festival entrance or shuttle, or exit the event when it shuts down for the night. Every detail matters, even the condition of the equipment of the event.”

For a festival of this size, MOB Traffic deploys more than 16 message boards, 600-800 cones, 600 stackers, 300 pieces of water rail, 200 hundred pieces of pedestrian rail, and a few hundred directional signs. The scope of the project requires a tremendous amount of coordination at the festival location and at the Masters of Barricades yard.

“We really have two teams working on major events like Life is Beautiful,” says Chet Kupiszewski, shop supervisor for MOB Traffic. “We have the dedicated special events team and support staff, and we have the yard team that is responsible for all of the staging, making sure all of the equipment that is needed is sorted and stacked efficiently on the right trucks. And while all this is going on, we are also managing the needs of another hundred or so orders every day.”

In addition to loading MOB Las Vegas trucks, Kupiszewski and his team are responsible for loading, delivering, and assembling the water rail. They also make custom signs using an onsite vinyl press and locate more barricades to fulfill any requests that might come from Life is Beautiful, the City of Las Vegas, or Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

“It requires a great deal of communication and coordination to pull this kind of an event off without any of our other customers even noticing it,” he said. “But that’s the job. We’re the go-to guys to make it happen.”

Life is Beautiful began in 2013 as part of the major transformation of Downtown Las Vegas into a cultural hub. MOB Las Vegas was contracted to provide traffic and pedestrian management solutions in 2015 to improve the experience. In addition to being the largest privately owned traffic control and barricade business in the region, MOB Las Vegas has a dedicated division responsible for special events that range from charitable 5k marathons to major sporting events such as the Mint 400.

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