Bar owners, police chief meeting over potential Strip line rules

The Tuscaloosa Police Department is looking at curbing massive, unwieldy lines popping up regularly outside bars on the Strip off the University of Alabama campus.

In one widely shared video TPD released from A-Day weekend, hundreds of people are crowded around in a haphazard fashion outside bars in the area, making the area impossible for passers-by to navigate.

Last week, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley presented a plan that could help resolve the issue to the Tuscaloosa City Council. His idea? Requiring queue permits for bars detailing how patrons can and cannot wait outside for entry.

“They’re basically using city right of way to have an entrance to their business,” Blankley said. “What they’d have to do is, at those property lines they’d have to stop those people coming into their bar if they see the property line.”

That means bars would need someone who can cut off the line when it gets too long, along with markers or barriers to separate those in line from those not.

“Basically, it’d be their responsibility to say, ‘Hey we’re full, you need to go somewhere else,’ ” Blankley said. “Police would still be on scene to help with this, but the bars must take some sort of responsibility to try and control their lines.”

WVUA 23 News spoke with several people who frequent the Strip earlier this week, and they said regulating the lines is a good solution.

“The lines can get very long, especially this past week,” said University of Alabama freshman Gary Winthorpe. “I can see students walking in the street and there are cars coming by. I think it’d be a lot safer if we had roped-off areas.”

Keeping the crowds on the sidewalk is a no-brainer, said UA freshman Kamaya Fletcher.

“I personally believe this is a really good idea,” Fletcher said. “When I am down on the Strip, sometimes when people are leaving out of the bars or restaurants they are in the street while there’s traffic. It’s like you’re just hoping you don’t get hit.”

Blankley said he welcomes input from bar owners regarding the situation and its potential solutions.

“Anytime you have the streets looking like they did on A-Day it is a dangerous situation,” he said. “We feel like it’s time to do something. We want to work with the businesses, this isn’t just what we say goes. We’ve already gotten suggestions and that’s helped a lot.”

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