Campus readies for Zero Dark Thursday traffic

While students and fans are gearing up for UNC’s Thursday night football game against the University of Miami, campus leaders are bracing for major logistical challenges.

The game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m., and a special task force is addressing how the University, UNC Hospitals and the town of Chapel Hill will deal with the influx of traffic brought on by the game.

“No policy is foolproof,” said Chairwoman of the Faculty Jan Boxill, who served on the committee that created the parking plan for the night.

park at zero dark

Parking will be limited at Thursday’s football game:

  • Parts of Franklin Street will be closed
  • Some student lots will close at 3:30 p.m., including the Loudermilk lot, Rams Head Deck and
    Stadium Drive
  • Limited public parking will be available in the Manning Lot, Jackson Deck and Cardinal Deck at 5:30 p.m.

“There’s always going to be tradeoffs, but we don’t want the tradeoffs to interfere with the academic side of the University or medical health care.”

Boxill said the task force aimed to accommodate the increase in traffic during fall break and gathered information from all areas affected.

Parking will be more restricted Thursday, with fewer than half of the spaces normally available for Saturday games open, according to the outline of the plan published online.

To alleviate some congestion, the Tar Heel Town pregame festivities will be held closer to North Campus.

Franklin Street will be closed from Mallette Street to Columbia Street, and Church Street will close between Rosemary Street and Franklin Street for the events. Chapel Hill Transit has agreed to alter its schedules to accommodate the expected changes in traffic patterns.

According to the parking plan, select student lots, such as the Rams Head Deck, will close at 3:30 p.m. and students will have to move their cars.

Certain lots will remain open specifically for employees who will not be attending the game; normal parking restrictions will be in effect Wednesday night through Friday.

Students are encouraged not to park on campus.

The plan also states UNC Health Care will not be holding clinic hours past 3 p.m., and UNC students and employees are expected to vacate campus by this time as well.

Despite the extensive plan, some students who plan to attend the game are apprehensive about what has been called the game’s traffic nightmare.

Junior Tierra Williams said she thinks having a night game during the week is ridiculous. She said the parking arrangement might have worked better on a weekend.

“The game will be over at, like, 11 p.m., and cars have to be moved back to their original lots by 7 a.m., so you either stay up late or get up early,” she said.

Sophomore Bobby Kawecki, who will play with the Marching Tar Heels at the game, said he’s glad he doesn’t have to worry about driving that night.

“It’s going to suck,” he said. “It’s already bad as it is on normal game days, and this is going to be a primetime game, so it’s going to be worse.”

Senior Associate Athletic Director Rick Steinbacher said the game’s late start time has unique advantages. A home football game generates $6 million of economic impact for the town, and the night game atmosphere will help the team, he said.

“I think we’ll play great,” he said.

“(Miami is) undefeated, but we are a team hungry for a win. It’ll be a big game on a big stage, and we are ready.”

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