While football fans visiting the new expanded Kyle Field in fall 2015 will experience some traffic congestion, it is not expected to be any heavier than with the old 83,000-seat stadium because of the success of the Kyle Field Transportation Plan commissioned by John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. This past season, Kyle Field hosted some of the largest crowds ever for college football games in Texas in the partially completed stadium. Fortunately for gameday travelers, the plan helped reduce vehicle-pedestrian conflicts, provide more information and get them to their homes, hotels, or entertainment venues faster than in previous years.
The implosion of the west side of Kyle Field this weekend is part of the ongoing construction for the two-year expansion project, which will increase the stadium capacity by 25 percent. In response to the anticipated larger crowds, Chancellor Sharp wanted to help fans get to and from the game as safely as possible and improve the overall game weekend experience in both 2014 and looking toward 2015.
“The redevelopment of Kyle Field offered the perfect opportunity to look at all other aspects of the fan experience, including transportation, and make improvements,” said Chancellor Sharp. “This plan, and the Destination Aggieland app implemented last season for the first time, will help make a visit to Kyle Field more enjoyable than ever.”
Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Research Fellow Tim Lomax is the supervisor of the plan, which also resulted in the development of the Destination Aggieland smartphone app. According to Lomax, one of the key elements that led to this year’s plan being a success was the rate at which traffic returned to normal levels after the games.
“Our goal was to get people to their vehicles as fast and safely as possible and then move the traffic off of campus,” said Lomax. “The biggest thing we did was to use four lanes southbound on Wellborn Road; a lot of our fans head south after the games. We also used the “contraflow” technique on Discovery Drive and improved the signal timing on most of the major streets. An indication of success in my book is that we handled the bigger crowds – including the biggest crowd to ever watch a football game in Texas – with congestion peaks shorter than those for the biggest 2013 games.”
The post-game traffic congestion after the Ole Miss and Louisiana State University games returned to normal after approximately two hours. After the Alabama and Auburn games in 2013, congestion did not return to normal until three to four hours after the game. “None of this would have been possible without many dedicated staff from the A&M Transportation Services and City of College Station,” Lomax said.
The outreach efforts through the Destination Aggieland app were also successful, with the app being downloaded nearly 24,000 times—an impressive number for a first-year app. Key features of the app are traffic information, maps and routes to the game; shuttle bus options; local restaurants and hotels; and a connection to the gameday.12thMan.com website.
“The excitement around the 2015 Aggie football season will be amazing as the stadium expansion nears completion,” said Lomax. “It’s important that we match the enthusiasm with an improved traffic plan.”
According to Lomax, some changes for next year’s traffic plan include:
- investments by the City of College Station to make traffic signals more responsive to traffic volumes;
- changes in parking, which will result in new lots and pedestrian access paths;
- possible expansions of shuttle bus service; and
- continuing improvements in the communication between the various agencies and groups involved with gameday traffic.
“The traffic team made numerous changes during the year to accommodate various conditions,” said City of College Station Traffic Engineer Troy Rother. While not the best of circumstances—such as the lightning delay for the first game, the five night games, meaning that people wanted to leave town after the game, and the new traffic control plans— they combined to test our ability to adapt. The 2015 plan will be better for having addressed all those challenges.”
Transportation plan partners are the City of College Station, the City of Bryan, Texas A&M University Transportation Services, Texas A&M Marketing and Communications, Texas A&M Athletics, the 12th Man Foundation, the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce, the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Downtown Bryan Association, the Texas Department of Transportation, and local safety and law enforcement agencies.
The Destination Aggieland app is free and available for both iPhones and Androids. You can download it at gameday.12thMan.com.
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