Campus commuters brace for Super Bowl traffic
While Houstonians anticipate Super Bowl LI, the streets have filled with traffic from thousands of incoming visitors.
One million people are expected to arrive in Houston this week before the game, leaving University of Houston students and staff wondering what their drive to campus will entail.
“I haven’t really thought of how it would affect my commute until recently, but I have noticed an unusual amount of traffic on I-10,” said petroleum engineering junior Roy Jang.
The traffic reports from last year’s Super Bowl in Santa Clara, California offer clues for what Houston should expect.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the NFL brought hundreds of buses to transport staff and their guests to the game. The city temporarily suspended parking permits and metered parking on busier streets to avoid gridlock.
With a large commuter population traveling to UH every day, many fear the impact the upcoming game will have on the traffic. Students and professors alike are predicting the drive will be inconvenient.
“My counterparts are planning ahead and rescheduling their Thursday and Friday courses so students have a breather from the traffic,” said adjunct communications professor David Gonzalez.
Public transit routes to downtown should not be disrupted since METRO will be extending its hours and adding more trains and buses the week before the game. Drivers must take an alternate route around NRG Stadium and Discovery Green since surrounding streets will be closed off.
Lots at the Energy Research Park will be reserved for event parking on Thursday. On Saturday, UH will be hosting a “Taste of the NFL” to raise money for hunger relief, so higher levels of traffic should be expected. Parking and Transportation Services will provide information on their website and social media pages.
“At this time, the only known campus parking impacts include a small portion of student lot 16G that was taken offline late last week in preparation for the Taste of the NFL event,” said Director of Parking and Transportation Robert Browand. “We encourage everyone to check back regularly for updates.”
As if there weren’t enough reasons to expect a week of heavy traffic, hosting one of the Super Bowl’s competing teams may worsen the situation, as the New England Patriots are expected to practice at TDECU Stadium.
While the traffic will inconvenience many, members of the Houston and UH communities feel that the game will have an overall positive impact on the city.
“Chief among the benefits is the boost in economic activity the region will experience from the thousands of visitors traveling from far to see the game,” said Gonzalez.
To many, the Super Bowl signifies competition, collaboration, national pride and an hour of television with decently humorous commercials. This year, however, it is an opportunity for Houston and UH to gain recognition from the rest of the country.
“What a wonderful opportunity our visitors will have to sample our diverse, delicious cuisine, world-class accommodations, out of this world attractions — Space Center, arts and theatre — and lone star hospitality they’ll not soon forget,” said course coordinator and assistant communications professor Deborah Bridges.