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
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
"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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org