Will Penn State football cause traffic backups in Patton Township? Residents hear update

Patton Township approves new sign to help with PSU football traffic

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors discussed Penn State football traffic on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. This video was provided by WTAJ, through a partnership with the Centre Daily Times for daily news content.
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The Patton Township Board of Supervisors discussed Penn State football traffic on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. This video was provided by WTAJ, through a partnership with the Centre Daily Times for daily news content.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are set to kick-off at their first home football game next weekend, but some residents are wondering how the new game day traffic plan will affect those living near Toftrees Avenue.

During Wednesday’s Patton Township Board of Supervisors meeting, representatives from Penn State explained that the revamped parking plan — a plan that specifically directs travelers to Toftrees — is a work in progress and will require a learning curve. Over 15 residents attended the meeting with questions about how the traffic plan will be enforced safely and effectively.

Partnering with SP+, a parking management firm that work to organize traffic plans for events like the Super Bowl, Penn State wanted to better manage how its lots were entered and exited during home games in an effort to alleviate delays and make traveling to and from the downtown area safer, said William Moerschbacher, assistant police chief at University Park.

The new plan, dubbed #RunYourRoute, breaks the stadium parking lots into four quadrants with their own entrance and exit, said Kathryn Benda, Penn State’s director of game day operations.

“We’re moving the traffic ... to the outskirts of campus,” Benda said.

Benda described the parking plan as a “wheel-and-spokes scenario.” She said those traveling to Beaver Stadium will reach their assigned lot from the direction the parking quadrant is located in: north, east, south west.

Don Jordan from SP+ and Bill Moerschbacher from Penn State University Police & Public Safety talk about the changes coming this season for parking around Beaver Stadium for Penn State football games. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Patton Township is situated in the north zone. Individuals parking in the northern quadrant must travel through Toftrees Avenue and enter their assigned lot off of Fox Hollow Road, Benda said. The traffic plan restricts game day access roads to one-way, starting four hours prior to game time.

Area resident Chris Flaven told WTAJ, the CDT’s news partner, that he has concerns about the number of cars exiting Interstate 99 onto Waddle Road and up Toftrees Avenue. Flaven thinks if the plan is not enforced, traffic will be heavier than it already is on game weekends.

Two state troopers will be positioned at the intersection between Fox Hollow and Toftrees in order to direct traffic and assure all travelers are entering from the appropriate road into the correct quadrant.

This year, Penn State distributed parking permits in advance and installed additional signage to direct travelers to their assigned lot. With only two cash sale locations available in the western and eastern quadrants, Benda said all drivers coming from the north through Toftrees would already have their parking pass displayed on their vehicle with directions on where to go.

Penn State football has changed parking for this coming season to improve fan safety and experience around Beaver Stadium. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Penn State has agreed to fund two additional patrol officers for both pre- and post-game traffic control on Toftrees Avenue for at least the first three games, Benda said.

With the plan, Supervisor Dan Trevino said he anticipates a backlog of traffic near Toftrees coming from the west and Bellefonte from the north. In order to mitigate backups, Benda said patrol officers will be equipped with redirection cards to give to travelers who have not yet learned the plan or have the proper permits. Penn State also partnered with Waze, a navigation app. Through the software, Penn State can implement redirection plans for game weekends, so drivers know where to go in advance.

Trevino raised concern about making travelers use Waddle Road, Toftrees Avenue and Cricklewood Drive in order to access Fox Hollow Road.

“People who don’t want to go into town but actually want to travel over toward East College Avenue .... you’re forcing them to do a huge detour around the town,” Trevino said.

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Penn State is implementing new traffic and parking changes this season, including a four-zone system and a one-way traffic pattern that starts four hours before kickoff. Penn State Graphic provided

Drivers are instructed to avoid football traffic patterns if they are not going to the game. For drivers traveling to University Park Airport, Moerschbacher suggested drivers use Park Avenue, Porter Road or University Drive. He also said drivers could use the Route 322/Interstate 99 bypass to Waddle Road or Atherton Street to Waddle Road to get to the airport. He suggested drivers plan ahead to assure they can reach their destinations on time.

Moerschbacher said implementing detours and setting up barriers around the stadium aren’t new ways to direct traffic for game day weekends. The new plan, he said, has backup solutions in case travelers accidentally enter from the wrong direction. For those who want to travel downtown and not go to the game, Moerschbacher said the new plan redirects them sooner as opposed to drivers sitting in additional traffic.

Township Manager Doug Erickson said it is not clear if the new plan will direct more of less traffic to Toftrees than in previous years, but Penn State has partnered with PennDOT to install a traffic cam that will monitor the number of cars driving through the area. Once data is collected, Penn State plans to give all footage to Patton Township for review.

Penn State plans to hold mid- and post-season meetings with local townships to hear feedback on the plan.

“With this plan, it’ll be a bit difficult for people to learn, especially the first three games,” Benda said.

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