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Local Arts

Coachella Traffic Exodus Begins This Morning; 10 Fwy Westbound Will Be Jammed Into IE

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Ken Vincent for KVCR
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   INDIO (CNS) - Around 120,000 people are expected to pour out of the desert today (Monday) over area freeways, causing backups and delays for miles following the second and final weekend of the annual Coachella Music & Art Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.
   Westbound motorists leaving the festival area in the morning hours found smooth travels on the 10 Freeway with slight congestion at Cook Street in Palm Desert, according to the California Highway Patrol. But clear traffic conditions were not expected to hold out all day as nearly a third of the travelers leaving the Coachella Valley will be campers, Indio city officials said, with shuttles and buses adding to the festival's traffic exodus.  Drivers should expect the westbound 10 freeway to be jammed through the Coachella Valley into the Inland Empire for most of the day today.
   To ease the traffic woes, officials alerted the public to several significant road closures for the day:
   -- Avenue 49 between Hjorth and Monroe streets;
   -- Avenue 50 between Madison and Jackson  streets;
   -- Hjorth Street between Avenue 49 and Avenue  50; and
   -- Madison Street between Avenue 49 and Avenue 52
   City officials recommend that north- and south- bound motorists use Washington, Jackson and Calhoun streets as well as Golf Center Parkway; while east-west travelers were advised to use Highway 111, Fred Waring Drive, Miles Avenue, Dr. Carreon Boulevard and Avenue 54.
   Festivalgoers paid anywhere from $400 to $900 apiece to catch world- class art and artists. This weekend's edition of the festival featured around 160 acts at Indio's Empire Polo Club.
   Kanye West got things going on the last day of this year's festival,
leading an Easter service featuring funky up-tempo grooves, soaring worship
anthems and some of his own songs. He directed his traveling choir group atop
``The Mountain,'' a man-made knoll in the campground area, surrounded by
thousands of onlookers in a highly anticipated performance announced just a few
weeks ago.
   Throughout the two-hour performance, which blended gospel hymns and
hip-hop, some of the musicians and vocalists were seen wiping away tears,
including West, as the band moved through renditions of ``As'' by Stevie
Wonder, Otis Redding's ``Try a Little Tenderness'' and West's own ``Jesus
Walks.''
   The rapper, who reportedly pulled out of headlining the festival this
year due to a stage design disagreement with the event's producers, made an
unexpected appearance late Saturday night during part of Kid Cudi's set.
   Officials performances at the Empire Polo Club began at 3:05 Sunday
and included the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter H.E.R., the rapper and
flautist Lizzo, Khalid, Dillon Francis and Blood Orange. Headliner Ariana
Grande began her set late in the evening.
   Near the end of her well-received set, she was joined by a special
surprise guest: Justin Bieber.
   ``We thought it might be fun to do something for you guys,'' Grande
said before the pair, who are featured on Lil Dicky's new single ``Earth,''
performed his 2015 hit, ``Sorry.''
   ``I haven't been on stage in like two years. I came out here I had no
idea I was going to be on stage tonight,'' Bieber said. ``So anyways, this is
my first time on stage in two years. I had to get my groove back, my swag back.
By the way, album coming soon.''
   Grande concluded her show with ``no tears left to cry,'' then
performed ``thank u, next'' for an encore.
   Last week, Grande welcomed NSYNC stars Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey
Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick to her set to sing their 1997 hit ``Tearin' Up My
Heart.'' Justin Timberlake was not there.
   Grande is only the fourth woman to ever headline Coachella, after
Bjork in 2002 and 2007, Lady Gaga in 2017 and Beyonce last year.
   The Indio Police Department is expected to release figures later this
week on how many people were arrested during the festival's second weekend. The
99 arrests made over the festival's first weekend represented a 7% drop from
the previous year's first weekend.
   Of the 99 people taken into custody... roughly 90% were arrested for
drug- or alcohol-related reasons, according to Indio police. Six people were
arrested for false identification and three for possession of drugs for sale.
Three of the arrests were categorized as ``other.''
   The drop in arrests coincided with law-enforcement changes at the
festival, including the use of drones to monitor crowds and traffic conditions.
Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said those tools -- along with an online
reporting system that diverted many festivalgoers' lost-and-found inquiries
away from the emergency lines -- helped law enforcement better prioritize their
time and resources.
   But he also credited ``positive growth and positive people,'' saying
attendees generally seemed to be making better choices.

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