Lack of parking causes jams at UH games
Where were police at the University of Hawaii-Oregon State football game? At 1:45 p.m., we tried getting through Halawa Heights Road, across Ulune Street, to get to the freeway. We weren't able to enter the freeway until 2:20 p.m. I called 911 and police said they would look into it. But, all the time we were stuck in traffic, we saw no police.
Answer: Officers are not assigned to the Halawa Heights Road/Ulune Street area, but 20 to 26 officers were directing traffic around Aloha Stadium, the Honolulu Police Department said.
They arrived between 1:30 and 2 p.m. (gates opened at 2:30 p.m.) and stayed there for "a solid five to six hours to try to direct cars to where they wanted to go," said Maj. Debora Tandal, of HPD's Pearl City station.
The problem was not a lack of officers directing traffic, she said, but that cars started to "line up ahead of time, when they're not supposed to," backing up traffic. "So we work on trying to get people from blocking around the stadium."
Officers are posted at each gate, with four assigned to the Salt Lake/stadium main entrance and five at the Salt Lake/Kahuapaani intersection. "We have officers all over," Tandal said.
So, why such a big traffic jam?
"The bottom line is there's not enough parking within the stadium," Tandal said. "There's 50,000 fans coming in and only 8,000 parking stalls."
Police and stadium officials ask people to use alternate parking sites, but even with signs flashing that gates are closed, "people are still trying to get in," she said. "Once the stalls are all taken, there's absolutely nothing we can do."
On that Saturday, other factors exacerbated the situation, Tandal said, including Christmas shoppers heading to shopping malls and a major accident on the H-1 freeway about 2:15-2:30 p.m.
HPD and stadium officials had met to critique the traffic situation after the near-sellout UH-Purdue game on Nov. 25.
"We came up with different signage to put up and passed out flyers about alternate (parking) sites," she said. "We also asked the stadium for additional help ... and they helped. They're very accommodating."
Tandal pointed out that the traffic situation was handled the same as at the usually sold-out Pro Bowl. The big difference is that the Pro Bowl utilizes "directed parking," in which people are told exactly where to park.
However, that involves "substantial cost and is not something the UH fans are agreeable to ... because people want to go to (a specified area) to tailgate and they won't park where they're supposed to," Tandal said.
"With the Pro Bowl, people are used to it already," she explained. The Pro Bowl also provides additional parking sites, such as Ford Island, she said.
To help ease the situation in the future, Tandal encourages people to use alternate parking locations and to "be patient, because the officers are doing the best job they can."
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