Want to see the JBLM Air Show and Warrior Expo with the least amount of fuss? Take the bus.
That’s the advice from Joint Base Lewis-McChord Chief of Police Ted Solonar, who, along with a host of military and civilian authorities, will try to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible to the show, which returns to the base Saturday and Sunday after a four-year absence.
“Taking a bus from one of the Pierce Transit shuttle sites is the most preferred method,” Solonar told The News Tribune last week. “People will literally be driven right to the entry point. They won’t have to worry about driving. They won’t have to worry about parking.”
Buses coming to and leaving the free event will be given “traffic flow priority,” he said, meaning people in cars will be stopped to let the buses go first.
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Those who choose to drive should expect delays, the chief said. Past shows, especially those on Saturday, have drawn 100,000 people or more and caused hourslong backups.
State troopers, local police and Washington Department of Transportation personnel will be on the freeways as well as surrounding streets and roads to direct traffic, he said, but congestion is inevitable.
“The word of the day is going to be patience,” Solonar said. “We realize this has a regional impact on traffic.”
Here’s a rundown of how you can get to the show and what you’re allowed to bring in:
Taking the bus
Pierce Transit will operate buses from three sites on Saturday and Sunday: Lakewood Towne Center, the Lakewood Sounder station and the Tacoma Dome Station.
Buses to JBLM will run 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, with return trips beginning at 4 p.m. The last bus leaving JBLM will be at 4:45 p.m.
One-way fares are $2 for adults, and $1 for ages 6 to 18 and people who qualify for discounted fares (seniors, Medicare card holders and people with disabilities, who must show Regional Reduced Fare Permits).
An all-day pass runs $5 for adults and $2.50 for youths and riders who qualify for a discount.
Riders under 5 ride for free with a fare-paying passenger, and a “family fare” is available. Under that plan, up to four children (age 13 and under) can ride free when accompanied by a fare-paying passenger.
Fares must be paid in cash with exact change only, although ORCA cards and One Trip tickets will be accepted.
“Please use the buses,” Solonar said. “Your day is going to be easier.”
Solonar discouraged people from driving, but knows many will anyway.
Those who do not have a Department of Defense identification card will be required to enter JBLM through the McChord Field gate off Interstate 5 at exit 125.
They will be directed to free parking lots near the entry gates to the show. Handicapped parking will be available there.
Drivers with a Department of Defense ID can enter the base through any gate, then park at Madigan Army Medical Center or the Logistics Center, where free military shuttle buses will be waiting to take them to the show’s gates.
When the show is over, drivers without Department of Defense identification will be directed off base using the same route they came in, Solonar said.
“It’s not going to be a quick process,” he said.
A state-issued identification card or passport will be required for anyone 16 or older who does not have a Department of Defense ID.
Enhanced driver’s licenses are not required, Solonar said.
All attendees will be subject to a bag search and a trip through a metal detector.
The only animals allowed on base during the shows are state- or federally certified service dogs.
“That’s dogs only,” Solonar said.
Animals brought on base but left in cars will be liberated through whatever means necessary if they appear to be in distress and their owners cannot be found, he said.
“The best course of action is to leave them home,” Solonar said.
▪ Weapons of any kind, including: firearms (even if you hold a state concealed carry permit), stun guns, pocket knives, pocket tools like Leatherman tools, scissors, box cutters, nunchakus, batons, Mace, pepper spray
▪ Rucksacks, large backpacks, large camera bags
▪ Glass containers
▪ Sports bottles or hydration packs
▪ Drones or remote-controlled aircraft
▪ Laser pointers
▪ Toys that resemble firearms
▪ Marijuana and illegal drugs
▪ Bicycles, scooters, Segways, skateboards, hoverboards
▪ Heelys, roller skates, Rollerblades
▪ Spray paint or silly string
▪ Tents, pop-up canopies, awnings
▪ Large umbrellas, including the golf and beach variety
▪ Small diaper bags
▪ Baby food, milk, formula
▪ Sealed water bottles
▪ Small purses
▪ Wheelchairs, walking aids
▪ Cameras, video recorders, binoculars
▪ Ear protection
▪ Comfortable shoes
▪ Lawn chairs (without carrying case)
▪ Pen for autographs