NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma and Norman Police Department have been trying to get the message out to travelers coming for OU football games this year to plan ahead because of construction in the area.
Anyone who has recently traveled along Interstate 35 knows how slow-moving traffic can be on a regular day. Add in thousands of game day travelers to that traffic.
Those who haven’t been to Norman lately should be aware that the I-35 overpass at Main Street is under construction. Entrance and exit ramps onto Main Street are closed.
The Canadian River Bridge on the south end is also under construction and narrowed to two lanes both directions.
Southbound travelers: Fans traveling southbound into Norman from the interstate should consider taking Exit 112 onto Flood Avenue, which is a left exit, or Exit 113 onto Tecumseh Road.
Norman police and city of Norman Traffic Management have developed alternate routes for southbound traffic from these two exits to access the stadium area.
Officers will provide traffic control assistance along areas of the suggested routes beginning three hours prior to kickoff.
For fans wanting to steer clear of I-35, police said Western Avenue or 60th Avenue Northwest has been widened to four lanes into Norman to Tecumseh Road.
Another option is to take Sooner Road or 12th Avenue Northeast to Lindsey Street.
Northbound travelers: Fans traveling northbound into Norman from the interstate should consider taking State Highway 9 or Lindsey Street.
Police and OU officials also advised that fans should leave earlier than usual. OU advised if you typically leave an hour early, leave two hours early. Police also said traffic congestion and delays are expected for those waiting later to arrive.
Also, OU advised that even if fans plan on taking one of the alternative routes mentioned, have a back-up plan just in case.
Campus construction: Other construction to look out for is on OU’s campus near the stadium. Construction is ongoing around the university’s South Oval area.
OU officials also said they will shut down roads around the stadium about four and a half hours prior to kickoff.
Roads that will be shut down include Asp Avenue to Jenkins Avenue and Lindsey Street up until Elm Avenue and Jenkins.
Game day weather: Fans also should plan for hot weather during this year’s opening season game Saturday. According to the National Weather Service, it will be sunny and hot, and temperatures are predicted to reach a high near 100 degrees.
The heat index is predicted to stick around the 90s during kickoff at 6 p.m. and start dropping into the high 80s around 10 p.m. Saturday night’s temperatures are expected to reach a low around 74 degrees.
Game day parking: Police also recommend that motorists exercise good judgment when parking before the game.
Most fines for typical parking violations range from $20 to $30, but some violations can result in a towed vehicle.
Police said wrecker fees and fines associated with a towed vehicle can be quite expensive. According to wrecker companies, a typical game day often results in 20 to 30 tows.
Areas to avoid parking include:
· Parking in a tow-away zone or fire lane
· Blocking a driveway, street or alley
· Blocking a fire hydrant
· Illegal use of handicapped parking
· Illegal parking on private property
New stadium policies: Another thing to look out for this year are new OU stadium policies. Some of the policy changes include:
· All women’s purses must be 10 inches by 10 inches or smaller.
· Only clear, empty water bottles will be allowed.
· No seat cushions or chair backs will be allowed, but seat backs still will be available to rent.
· No bags with merchandise will be allowed in, even if the bag is clear.
· No bags, backpacks, string backpacks or fanny packs will be allowed.
Items that will be allowed include approved medical devices and approved family care items such as diapers and formula in a bag that is 10 inches by 10 inches or smaller.
Express lanes will be at every gate for those not carrying a purse or bag for family care items.
For a complete fan guide, including a list of all stadium policies, a game day travel map or a stadium map, visit soonersports.com.