Cyber-side Chat No. 41

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
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Cyber-side Chat No. 41

August 19, 2004

TO: Fans, Friends, and Supporters of LSU Athletics

FROM: Skip Bertman, LSU Athletics Director

There is now only a little more than two weeks before we begin the 111th season of LSU football. Over the course of the last century, the interest, support and following of college football has grown by leaps and bounds.

But there is one important item pertaining to LSU football that has not sufficiently expanded: the roadways leading into and away from Tiger Stadium.

From the mid-1970s to now, the capacity of Tiger Stadium has grown from 67,000 to 91,000. But the arteries in and out of the campus have not grown at the same rate.

Our primary concern is an efficient plan to exit fans from campus. Because of tailgating, fans flow into campus over the course of 10 to 12 hours on game day. So the problem of incoming traffic is not as critical as all 91,000 trying to go home at the same time.

Last year we hired traffic engineers and used our police force to conduct an in-depth study of departing traffic during the Florida and Auburn games. We chose those games for the obvious reason that they were the most heavily anticipated and attended games of the year.

We derived information from several sources: data from law enforcement, field surveillance using traffic tube counters, advanced video detection and counting cameras, airborne surveillance and aerial photographs.

The average attendance for LSU home games last year was 90,974 with approximately 21,000 additional tailgaters, security guards, law enforcement officers, vendors, etc. These additional people bring the total campus attendance to nearly 112,000 each game.

We estimate the number of passengers per vehicle to be about between three and four individuals per game, meaning there are almost 28,000 vehicles entering and exiting the campus each game.

Last year we made a change in the routes by which vehicles exited the campus. The goal was to efficiently corral all vehicles onto specific outbound routes based on parking locations. Those locations are indicated by color schemes on the fold-out traffic map in the LSU Fan Guide which will be delivered with your football season tickets.

These routes were specifically designed to minimize the number of conflict points, those areas where one traffic route crosses another traffic route, thus creating a bottleneck.

There are five key arteries leaving the LSU campus: Burbank Drive (four lanes), Dalrymple Avenue (two lanes), Highland Road (two lanes), Nicholson Drive (four lanes) and River Road (two lanes).

We know last year’s new routes caused some problems for fans who were used to taking the shortest route home after a game and now found themselves routed to new areas of campus. Our research shows that, for the good of the 112,000 fans, these new exit routes most rapidly moved traffic away from campus.

Our study also showed that a few minor adjustments will help the plan work even better. For instance, once the new Bluebonnet extension is open from Burbank Drive to Nicholson Drive, we will be able to use it to more efficiently move traffic in that area.

Based on feedback we received last year, most fans made adjustments to their post-game routine by the second or third game, once they understood the plan. This plan will stay in place for 2004, so most fans should now be familiar with our post-game traffic procedure.

There are three uncontrollable circumstances that can dramatically affect traffic flow pre- or post-game. A fender bender, no matter how small, can bring traffic to a total halt. Weather factors greatly impact the flow of traffic. And when there’s a close game, everybody stays to the end and leaves at the same time. We want everyone to stay to the end of every game, but we know that fans sometimes leave early to “beat the traffic.”

The question we most frequently hear concerns why we don’t make Nicholson Drive traffic one-way north and south bound. Fans can recall that Nicholson Drive used to be one way out of campus after the game. But there has been significant growth of new development, and there is a great liability risk of vehicles turning into oncoming traffic off of side streets, businesses and apartment complex developments.

You also need to know there are many police officers in vehicles monitoring and managing traffic signals throughout the areas around Tiger Stadium. These signals are remote controlled, so just because you don’t see an officer in the middle of an intersection waving traffic along, it doesn’t mean he’s not actively stopping and starting traffic. Those officers are receiving live information from various traffic monitoring stations as well as the police helicopter that observes traffic flow before and after games.

Our traffic control force consists of officers from the LSU Police, Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety Police and Louisiana State Police, as well as a police helicopter, mobile command centers, traffic engineers and traffic system operators. Tiger Stadium is the fifth largest city in Louisiana on a Saturday night, so you can appreciate the challenge these dedicated people face in getting you home quickly and safely.

We welcome your comments, so write to us at LSUvision@etigers.net. Although we cannot promise a response to every e-mail we receive, please be assured that every letter will be read. Thank you for your continued support of Tiger Athletics.