Oxford, Ole Miss make gameday traffic changes

OleMissLogoBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – After traffic problems trapped some fans in gridlock more than two hours after the University of Mississippi-Texas A&M University game, Oxford and university officials will change today’s routine for the LSU game.

On Monday, Ole Miss apologized to fans.

“We acknowledge the post-game traffic delays and apologize for the inconvenience that many fans experienced Saturday night,” stated a joint letter from the Athletics Department, the Ole Miss Athletic Association and the Parking and Transportation Department. “We strive to have the best gameday experience in sports, and we let you, our customers, down on an important part of the experience.”

Traffic will not be funneled out of town on Molly Barr Road to Highway 7, as was done as an experiment last week, Oxford Emergency Manager Jimmy Allgood said. Gertrude Ford Boulevard, which passes by the stadium’s northeast corner, will remain open until halftime, after which it will be closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles and shuttles.

“Old Taylor Road, Fraternity Row and Coliseum Drive will go back to both lanes one-way out after the game,” Allgood said.

“The bus lanes just didn’t work,” said University Police Chief Calvin Sellers.

University Avenue, Sorority Row and Rebel Drive will remain two-way at all times to allow emergency ingress.

Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said engineering staff would be on call to repair any malfunctioning traffic signals.

Since Ole Miss decided to limit on-campus parking for football games to those with special game-day permits, thousands of cars have been pushed off campus into surrounding parts of Oxford. The university has hired additional buses to shuttle fans between campus and parking.

“We’re using bigger buses this time,” said UM parking and traffic director Isaac Astill. Rebel Ride, which also has provided shuttle service between downtown and campus on the traditional bar nights of Thursday, Friday and Saturday for years, was given a cease-and-desist order by a federal agency this week, Astill said.

Oxford’s police officers will work at Gertrude Ford and Jackson Avenue, where private security officers erroneously delayed shuttle buses for some 45 minutes last week. Oxford Police also will focus on major pedestrian crossings.

Starting 90 minutes earlier than last week’s, tonight’s game will likely end in time for an influx of fans at downtown bars.

“Dealing with the Square takes up a good deal of our manpower,” OPD Maj. James Owens said.

errol.castens@journalinc.com