Additional gem show traffic necessitates caution and patience

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Traffic in Tucson is a little worse this week.  More of the major gem and mineral show exhibits are getting underway.  Which leads to more traffic and more pedestrians.

Tucson department of transportation leaders say for the next few days the corner on Starr Pass boulevard, just pass the interstate, will be one of the busiest. So, drivers and pedestrians have to watch out for a few travel restrictions.

The Tucson gem and mineral show brings all things sparkly, all things shiny, and a lot of traffic.

"There's people from all over the world.  I've met people from Australia, Europe, Africa," said vendor William Stewart from Hawaii.

"I am here as both a buyer and a seller," said Criss Smith from Holbrook.

To keep up with crowds, the Tucson department of transportation relies on a plan they've had in place for the past few years.

"We have reduced speed limits in areas of high pedestrian traffic, we also have traffic control devices," said Jim Glock from the Tucson Department of Transportation.

One high pedestrian traffic area includes the roadways near Interstate 10 and Starr Pass Boulevard.

"A lot of pedestrians, a lot of traffic, and what we found is folks are crossing Starr Pass very close to the interstate frontage road and creating a dangerous situation overall," said Glock.

Last week the department of transportation reduced the speed limit along Freeway Road from 40 miles per hour to 25.

It's also prohibiting northbound and southbound travel on Farmington Road, across from Starr Pass.

"By doing so we've increased the safety of our gem show patrons and hopefully we'll make it through this gem show without anyone getting hurt," said Glock.

Gem show enthusiasts appreciate the safety measures.  Even though some say they haven't seen as much foot traffic this year.

"We did have that record setting cold, so I think that stopped a lot of people," said Smith.

Still, TDOT leaders say drivers and pedestrians should be alert.  If you're crossing a busy street, make sure to use a cross walk.

"We ask for people to bare with us, please obey traffic control signs and devices and go out there and enjoy the show," said Glock.

Most of the display tents will stick around through this weekend.  The main show begins Thursday at the Tucson Convention Center.

If you're heading downtown this weekend make sure to give yourself some extra time.