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Game day traffic concerns

Football game weekends are always busy in Oxford, but with the Texas game comes a greater influx of people than usual, and the Oxford and University Police Department are preparing.
Addison Dent

Police and other traffic officials in the area are preparing for a large number of people for the Texas football this game weekend. While football games are one of the most anticipated events that many Ole Miss students, faculty and alumni look forward to, many people have come to dread the traffic and parking that come along with game weekends. For the Texas game, which has garnered rumors of upwards 100,000 people to be in Oxford this weekend, traffic is becoming a concern to not only Ole Miss fans, but to the Oxford Police Department (OPD) and the University Police Department (UPD) as well. On a regular school day, parking and traffic are issues that most people have become accustomed to. However, on game day, all bets are off. From parking on the sidewalk to having people create their own spaces, Ole Miss becomes a maelstrom of cars, trucks and RVs.  This weekend is sure to go down in Ole Miss’ history as one of the most people-packed games. “I think parking as a whole is bad on ballgame day, and this is really going to stretch our parking capacity,” Chief of Field Operations at UPD Michael Harmon said. “We do anticipate a lot more cars and a lot more traffic.” With the record breaking amount of people that is expected to arrive, the university will have the local authorities manning traffic control for the smoothest experience possible. “Officers control the traffic signals by remote control,” OPD Chief of Police Mike Martin said. “What this means is that we manually tell the traffic signal when to change to allow traffic to flow off each street. Officers also place signs and cones to direct the traffic flow both before and after games. After games most streets leaving campus are converted to one way (off the campus).” Even the Airport at Ole Miss is expecting more air traffic than they have experienced in the past. They predict to have more planes flying in than on normal game day weekends. “It is more planes than we ever had before,” airport employee Sylvia Barron said. “It is hard to judge how many are coming because they do not make reservations, they just show up. It is a first come first serve basis. If we run out of room to store planes, the planes are allowed to drop passengers off and leave.” Knowing how game days go, most students are avoiding using their personal transportation on Saturday. “I’m taking a taxi,” marketing junior Luis Beristain said. “It is a lot better than trying to find somewhere to park.” It will be a busy day on Saturday starting in the morning, and police in the area have a few tips for people to avoid the traffic in the best possible ways. “We encourage people to try and come early,” Harmon said. “If you wait two to three hours before kickoff, unless you’ve got a paid parking spot, you won’t be able to get to the center part of the county.”