Heavy traffic for UNC game

October 21, 2009 6:40:39 PM PDT
UNC will host ACC rival Florida State in the school's first ever Thursday night football game this week.But not everyone is looking forward to it. Imagine 60,000 people arriving for the game at the same time thousands of employees are leaving work. That'll mean Thursday's matchup pits more than just the Heels against the Noles. The first competition will start before the 8 p.m. kickoff with congestion on the roadways.

"We deal with that for every home ball game on a weeknight during the academic semester - certainly this is roughly triple that crowd," said Randy Young with the UNC Dept. of Public Safety.

That's why public safety officials are warning fans now that they shouldn't expect to drive onto campus anytime before 5:30 p.m. Any who do will be turned away. UNC hopes that'll give its 15,000 or so employees time to get off campus for the day without too much hassle.

Employees are allowed to leave at 3 p.m. to help accommodate the crowds for a football game time that's never been attempted before in Chapel Hill.

"There's two hours from the time the university closes to when we really open up the campus for the actual event operations," said Young.

Traffic concerns have also forced changes at UNC hospitals. Patient discharge, lab and clinic hours have been scheduled to work around peak traffic hours.

Despite the potential traffic hassles, UNC player are looking forward to being in the national spotlight.

"It's the college football version of Monday Night Football. We get to play when nobody else is playing, so all eyes going to be on us," strong safety Da'Norris Searcy explained.

That said, he understands what fans will have to go through to get to tomorrow's game.

"I been seeing signs saying that traffic's going to be heavy from four to eight so I told my mom to get up here early," he said.

In fact, nine roadside signs have been up for two weeks to prepare drivers. Postcards have been sent to residents across town. Public safety officials strongly suggest fans use park and ride buses to get onto campus, or carpool.

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