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University plans to deal with World Cup traffic congestion

STANFORD -- Scholars, conference attendees and visitors arriving at Stanford University for the first day of Summer Quarter on Monday, June 20, could be in for a bit of a surprise, traffic- and parking- wise.

That happens to be the day of the first of six World Cup soccer matches to be played at Stanford Stadium. Each game is expected to add about 85,000 people to a campus with an average daytime population of nearly 30,000.

University officials are cautiously confident that parking won't be a major nightmare for regular employees and residents, since most of the up to 15,800 vehicles coming onto campus for the World Cup matches will be directed to temporary parking lots near the stadium.

Parking lots and structures reserved for holders of Stanford parking permits will be monitored and actively patrolled on match days, said Julia Fremon of Transportation Programs. The lots also will be staffed with "greeters," both to assist newcomers and visitors and to discourage soccer fans from trying to park there.

(Exceptions will be the Track House lot and, possibly, the Maples Pavilion lots, which will be used for World Cup parking. All parking within the Campus Drive loop will retain Stanford permit or meter restrictions.)

Cars without prepaid World Cup parking will be charged $20 to park on match days; if they were to park in a Stanford space and get a ticket, that would cost $25, so the "greeters" will be crucial in helping maintain the parking supply for Stanford permit holders.

Valerie Veronin, coordinator of World Cup activities for Stanford, said both in Palo Alto and on campus, steps will be taken to keep game traffic headed toward game lots, and away from the neighborhoods and the central campus. A combination of California Highway Patrol, Palo Alto Police and Stanford Police personnel will guide up to 15,800 cars, limousines and buses to specific parking areas on specific routes, she said.

The World Cup organization also is encouraging ticket-holders and ticket-buyers to purchase their parking vouchers in advance. This will save fans money, and smooth traffic flow into lots, Veronin said. Prepaid private autos will be charged $10 a game, rather than $20 for same-day purchase.

Limousines will be charged $50 in advance, $100 on match day, and buses will be charged $100 in advance, $200 on match day. Veronin said. The university parking plan is designed to be able to accommodate a maximum of 15,000 private cars, 300 limos and 500 buses per match.

By comparison, a sellout football game generates a total of about 8,000 private automobiles, Veronin said, "so we think we're going to have ample parking" for the World Cup.

A private parking firm has been hired to staff the lots, take vouchers and give receipts to cash customers.

While the parking may go smoothly, once Stanford employees are in the office or the classroom, they are advised to stay put. A walk to Tresidder Union or the Faculty Club should be no different than on a "normal day," but a lunch excursion into Palo Alto will essentially be out of the question except for the most masochistic of motorists.

All six World Cup matches are scheduled to start at either 1 p.m. (the four first-round games) or 12:30 p.m. (the Round of 16 and quarterfinal matches). Stanford officials are warning people to avoid certain streets between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and again from 3 to 4:30 p.m., on match days.

Fremon said the following streets and freeways should be avoided during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon hours on match days:

Commuters coming to Stanford on Interstate 280 from the south after 10 a.m. should exit at El Monte Road and take the Foothill Expressway into campus, Fremon said. Likewise, those coming from the north can exit at Woodside Road and take Alameda de las Pulgas into campus to avoid soccer crowds.

From U.S. 101, motorists are advised to take a connector to 280 (such as State Route 92 in San Mateo or State 85 in Mountain View) and approach the campus from the south or west, avoiding Palo Alto altogether.

Soccer matches generally last about two hours, so it is hoped that most of the World Cup congestion will have thinned out before the 5 to 6 p.m. rush hour begins.

One potential problem is the area around Stanford Hospital, where a major shift change occurs between 3 and 4 p.m., adding hundreds of cars to the mix.

"There's not really a lot we can do about that, except to warn them [hospital employees]," Fremon said. Hospital officials say access for emergency vehicles will not be affected during World Cup.

"People on regular hours [the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. university standard] coming to work those days should be able to park and get to their jobs before the World Cup traffic starts coming in," Veronin said. "The real traffic problems, if any, will be in the afternoons."

After the first match, featuring Brazil vs. Russia, matches are scheduled for Friday, June 24; Sunday, June 26; Tuesday, June 28; Monday, July 4; and Sunday, July 10, so only three workdays are involved.

However, people coming onto campus for other activities on the two Sundays may feel the impact. Transportation officials, Sgt. Hilary Karp of the Stanford Police Department and others are working with Memorial Church staff to accommodate churchgoers, including some people who made wedding arrangements before the World Cup schedule was announced.

"Sergeant Karp and I are confident there won't be a problem on that side of campus those Sundays," Fremon said.

People who can work at home on World Cup match days are being encouraged to seek permission to do so from their supervisors. Keith Smith, manager of employee relations, has sent a memorandum to supervisors asking them to accommodate requests to use personal time off or vacation time for those days "wherever possible."

All employees and most campus residents soon will receive detailed instructions on World Cup detours and options. Among options for getting to and from campus are increased service on CalTrain and county buses, and for getting around campus or into Palo Alto, a special schedule of increased service on the Marguerite shuttle bus system. Palo Alto residents will be able to take advantage of rush-hour service between downtown and the main campus, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center route also will operate during rush hours. Other lines will be rescheduled to avoid the projected problem areas.

The Transportation Programs office has set up a special "hot line" for people needing more information on dealing with World Cup traffic and parking, Fremon said. The number is (415) 725-9946.



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