Drivers along Mill Plain Road can expect busier than average traffic on Thursday and Friday this week, when an estimated 3,600 people visit Western Connecticut State University's Westside campus to see the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, will speak at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and again at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Some traffic congestion is expected.
"It's a city," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, saying he wasn't particularly worried. "We see as many as 6,000 people at a popular Ives concert."
The Ives Concert Park is across University Boulevard from the O'Neill Center on the Westside campus where the talks will take place.
Boughton said the Dalai Lama's visit won't close roads or force any detours on the west side of town or elsewhere. During WCSU's undergraduate graduation, 5,000 to 6,000 people attend, and no roads are closed.
Most of the car traffic is being sent to two off-site parking lots rather than to the location of his speaking engagement, said Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement at WCSU, Paul Steinmetz. People who bought tickets to the two talks were later sent bus tickets and directions to park either at the Danbury Fair Mall or at the Kennedy Avenue parking lot owned by BRT. From there, they will take buses to the Westside campus.
"Other than guests on the buses, no one without special identification will be allowed to enter (the Westside) campus the day of the lectures. Students who live in the residence halls will be able to come and go. Only ticket holders will be allowed in the O'Neill Center," Steinmetz said.