Businesses, grassy areas will be used for extra parking during MSU game
Saturday is not an optimal day for a joy ride through Mount Pleasant.
With tens of thousands of people coming into the area for the Central Michigan University football game against Michigan State University, anyone driving through Mount Pleasant on Saturday should expect backups, detours and heavy pedestrian traffic.
To deal with this, the Mount Pleasant Police Department has developed an extensive traffic and parking management plan.
Mount Pleasant Police Capt. Paul Lauria said season ticket holders have been made aware of the traffic plan and are encouraged to come early and stay late.
“Obviously, if you come into town late, good luck getting into the game because there will be significant backups; that’s just a fact,” Lauria said.
The stadium’s parking lots are expected to be full and police have anticipated needing anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 parking spots to accommodate all the vehicles.
Because CMU does not have that capacity, with only about 5,000 spots, businesses along Mission Street are other options for parking, Community Information Director Heather Smith said.
“We fully anticipate all of those lots to be full,” Smith said.
Those businesses are also likely going to charge for parking.
CMU Lots 22 and 33, which usually are not used for game day parking, will be made available for parking.
CMU has hired 150 extra personnel for game day, who will be able to help police execute the traffic plan in the initial setup and also help during parking.
The traffic plan’s emphasis is on the exit strategy at the conclusion of the game. Officers and posted signs will direct traffic when the game ends.
“The plan uses dispersion techniques. We think this is the best, most efficient and safest way to the empty lots at the end of the game,” Lauria said.
MSU fans been advised to park on the other side of West Campus Drive, near Bennigan’s, where the grassy field will be used for parking. Once the game is let out, people parked there will be forced to go southbound on Mission Street to U.S. 127 for an immediate exit.
Locals may be forced to take a roundabout way, Lauria said, depending on which lot they park in.
Theunissen Stadium is another area slated for parking. People parked there will be directed to Broomfield Road and head west out of town toward Lincoln Road.
If someone who parks in Theunissen Stadium wants to go north or south bound on U.S. 127, they will have to go from Broomfield to Lincoln, Lincoln to Pickard, from Pickard to Mission, where they can go northbound or continue on Pickard to U.S. 127 to go southbound.
“There’s a lot of road there. It can handle a lot of cars and spreads everybody out,” Lauria said.
Those who choose to park in the plazas and businesses on the east side of Mission Street will likely be forced to turn east, only allowing select traffic onto Mission Street, which will be regulated to slow traffic.
“We will allow some cars to exit and head southbound or northbound, and the trick behind this is we want traffic to backup because of the high volume of pedestrian traffic,” Lauria said.
There is a method to the madness, and it’s a technique that works and will keep vehicles almost at a standstill, which allows people to get to their cars and pedestrian can cross, he said.
Smith said patience will be key for those dealing with traffic. Aside from those attending the game, an additional 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected to be in town.
“We have backups on regular game days on Broomfield and Mission, so this many more people will be a challenge,” Smith said. “We just want people to be aware of what to expect.”
No matter how long it takes to empty the lots, Lauria said success cannot be measured by time.
“We are trying to get people out and moving in an efficient manner, but far beyond that is the safety,” Lauria said. “If there is no one hurt and no accidents, my feelings are it is successful.”
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