More parking areas, construction headaches to greet football fans

The Oxford Eagle By Shea Stewart
December 01, 2003

The arrival of the first University of Mississippi home football game also marks the arrival of the first real traffic jams of the season.

Football fans coming to Oxford this weekend for Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff between the University of Mississippi and the University of Louisiana-Monroe will be greeted with new parking areas this year and some new road blocks as well.

New parking lots located on Old Taylor Road, at the Oxford Mall and the Ford Performing Arts Center will make parking easier. But construction on West Jackson Avenue will cause new headaches for motorists entering or leaving Oxford that way.

With approximately 1,000 parking spaces, the brand-new South Lot on Old Taylor Road will allow people to park and walk to the game under the lights of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Parking will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The land was formerly the site of the Mississippi Department of Transportation's local Highway Maintenance Headquarters.

The South Lot parking charge is $5 per vehicle and officials are hopeful it will alleviate the hazard of people parking along Highway 6.

"Parking on the highway median is strongly discouraged," University Police Department Chief Randy Corban said. "It's dangerous crossing the highway, especially with children." Although no accidents have occurred between pedestrians and vehicles along Highway 6 on gameday, the risk is always there, said Oxford Police Department Assistant Chief Mike Martin.

"I'm tickled to death the university (built the South Lot)," he said. "Unless it fills up there is no excuse for people not to use it. It is my pick for the best place to park."

Motorists wishing to use the parking available at the intramural fields west of the stadium are advised to turn south onto Mall Drive just off of West Jackson Avenue, east of the Wal-Mart Supercenter. An university shuttle service is provided from there to the interior campus.

To access parking at the Oxford Mall, motorists are encouraged to use the Highway 6 bypass to Highway 7 North to Molly Barr Road and East Jackson Avenue. A University shuttle service will also be available to campus from there.

The alternate travel routes are necessary to avoid the construction on Jackson Avenue, a place a random motorist does not wish to be on Saturday.

"Unless you have business on Jackson, such as staying in a hotel there or eating at a restaurant, I would suggest using the bypass," Martin said. Gameday also means different traffic rules for driving on campus.

On Grove Loop, traffic is one way in front of Farley Hall, Lamar Law Center, and Triplett Alumni Center. This provides room for one lane of traffic and an unloading zone for The Grove. When traveling west on University Avenue, there is no right turn onto Grove Loop.

The other unloading zone for The Grove is on University Avenue. Parking vehicles and/or trailers around The Grove and Circle on Fridays is prohibited. Violators are subject to being towed.

No vehicles are admitted on All-American Drive, formerly Fraternity Row, between Poole Drive and University Avenue unless a driver has a parking pass or a handicapped license plate or placard. And access to the interior campus from University Avenue will be closed to traffic one hour before kickoff, Corban said.

"Only those vehicles with handicap and University parking passes will be allowed to pass through the barricade," he said.

Corban also cautioned that parking on the grass on campus will be prohibited. "People are not allowed to park their vehicles on the grass," he said. "The physical plant has most of it roped off, but vehicles will be subject to tow if they are parked on the grass on campus."

After the game, one-way traffic flows east on University Avenue toward downtown Oxford, west on All-American Drive to Jackson Avenue, and south on Coliseum Drive to Highway 6. Non-university golfcarts and all-terrain vehicles are prohibited from campus. Violators are subject to fine and arrest.

OPD will also broadcast local traffic updates every 15 minutes up to one hour before kickoff. To get the latest traffic information, motorists should tune radios to WQLJ-Q 93.7.

Troopers with the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and Lafayette County Sheriff's Department deputies will assist OPD and UPD in directing traffic at major intersections before and after the game.
(University Communications contributed to this report.)

- Shea Stewart can be reached at shea@oxfordeagle.com

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