GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Recent terrorist attacks in the U.S. and overseas have prompted a major change in the traffic pattern for the University of Florida campus on football game days, the Gainesville Police Department announced Monday.
Several blocks of West University Avenue, a main thoroughfare for the university, will be closed from about three hours before kickoff until about two hours after the game ends, police said.
The closures, which will stretch from NW 17th to NW 22nd streets, are meant to “ensure the highest level of safety to everyone in the area.”
Police said the closures will be announced in the media and on social media during the week before each game to remind motorists of the changes. Electronic message boards will also be placed along West University Avenue at key intersections, police said.
Detours around the closure include:
- Eastbound traffic will be diverted on NW 22nd Street to either 5th or 8th avenues and then back to NW 17th Street.
- Westbound traffic will be diverted on NW 17th Street to either 5th or 8th avenues and then back to NW 22nd Street.
- Fans with credentials to enter the O’Connell Center parking lot or the North Lawn will be able to access those areas from the west on University Avenue.
- Lot 1, Lot 2 and Lot 1-DIS (disabled parking) must be accessed from the west on University Avenue.
- Lot NRV, Lot M, Lot M-DIS (disabled parking), Lot 12 and Lot 12-DIS (disabled parking) must be accessed from the east on University Avenue.
- A right-turn-only eastbound lane will be open for vehicles exiting UF Campus from Fletcher Drive onto University Avenue.
Police encouraged anyone not attending gameday activities to avoid the area to reduce delays.
GPD said Gainesville Fire-Rescue will have EMS personnel available in the pedestrian area, and city of Gainesville Public Works will also have additional parking enforcement personnel on-hand to address any parking issues.
According to police, the traffic flow change was developed with input from GPD, public works, fire rescue, university police, UF administration and the university's athletic association. It has been reviewed by the Florida Department of Transportation.
"I thought that's a great idea. So people don't get run over," said Sydney Malbeaux, UF student and Pita Pit employee.
Employees at businesses on West University Avenue said they're happy about the changes.
"There's so many innocent people walking around, not expecting something like that to happen. So it's good they're taking the precaution," said Elizabeth Ransom, UF graduate and Relish employee
The UF Athletic Association released a statement about the changes:
"In conjunction with Florida football home games, the Gainesville Police Department and city officials have developed a plan to ensure the safety and security of all visitors around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. While the road closure may cause inconveniences for some fans while traveling, it will provide a much safer environment around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the time surrounding each home game."