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Final Preps For Ultra Underway, What To Know

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Final preparations are underway for the annual Ultra Music Festival held in Downtown Miami every year.

The event which is expected to bring in more than 160,000 people from more than 60 countries to the area starts Friday, March 23rd and ends Sunday, March 25th.

Residents and eventgoers can expect a heavy police presence throughout the weekend as well as heavy traffic. Traffic will start being re-routed on Thursday at 9 p.m.  That will last until Monday at 6 a.m.

You can also expect heightened security this year, especially after the deadly shooting in Las Vegas back in October.  Ultra Music Festival's Security Director Ray Martinez said earlier this month, "Safety and security is our highest priority." Hundreds of officers are scheduled to work through the weekend.

READ: ULTRA 2018 - At a Glance

On Wednesday, Martinez said preparing to host and keep the festival safe has become a year-round event.

"Our planning for security for the event began almost immediately after the close of last year's show," Martinez said.

Formula 'E' racing fencing, the same one used on race tracks, will be used to line the event. All bags going into the event must be clear plastic and are subject to search. There will be an amnesty box at the entrance which can be used to throw away narcotics, weapons, etc.

While there is heightened security, the recurring theme is 'If you see something, say something,' meaning if you see something suspicious, make sure to call the police.

The festival comes after a gunman opened fire at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people.  As a result, Miami police will be prepared to take out a high-rise shooter.  The site is surrounded by tall office buildings, hotels, and condominiums.

"We have elevated observation points, counter-sniper points. Obviously, we are going to have our SWAT team working as well," said Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina.

The festival site is also surrounded by concrete barricades, designed to stop an attempted attack by car or truck.

Ultra had a bad run from 2012 to 2014 when the festival was marked by fence jumpers, a security guard nearly getting trampled to death, hundreds of arrests and scores of drug overdoses, at least one of them fatal.  That has since been corrected as Ultra invested a fortune in more police officers and paramedics.  More than 300 police officers, a third of the force – most working off duty – will be working the festival in uniform and plain clothes.

Miami Fire Rescue Captain Ignatius Carroll said 80 paramedics will be working the festival at all times, using motorized carts and scooters to reach those needing medical help.  Two advanced life support rescue units will be stationed at the venue to take those who might need it to the hospital.

For those trying to get around the area and want to avoid the traffic tie-ups, the Metro Rail and Metro Mover will remain open and will be open an additional hour.

There's also the option of the Metro Bus which can be accessed from the Miami Government Center at 111 NW 1st Street. Some routes in the area of the festival are being re-routed. You can plan your trip here.

If you prefer to take the road, you can opt for a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft. There will be designated pick-up and drop off locations near the festival.

Uber officials said due to road closures during the festival, riders will not be able to request a trip on Biscayne Blvd.  but they do have a suggested area pictured in the map below.

Uber Rides Map -Ultra 2018
Uber Rides Map -Ultra 2018 (Courtesy: UBER)


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