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Parking changes frustrate drivers

Mary Kate Malone | Monday, September 19, 2005

Early Saturday morning, hopeful football fans arrived at Notre Dame Stadium by the carload – earlier than Notre Dame Security/Police associate director Phil Johnson had seen in years. Despite the elimination of 1,700 parking spots, fans still managed to flood campus by early morning, but not all were satisfied with the University’s adjustments.

“The inbound traffic we think went very well,” Johnson said. “It was the earliest, largest, arriving inbound crowd police reported in years. Before the one-way pattern [on Juniper Road] started, parking in White field (north of Douglas Road, west of Juniper Road) was over half full by 10 a.m. So we didn’t run out of capacity in any way, but it was a large crowd.”

From the fans’ perspective, just getting to a parking lot and finding a spot proved difficult.

Notre Dame fan Anthony Bertini said he and his brother Frank drove in from New York City for the game.

“It was terrible,” he said. “We drove in from New York and I had to pay $20 to park. The wait for the bus was way too long. They don’t have enough buses, and it was not a direct route.”

Bertini’s brother echoed his sentiments.

“The school has an eight million [dollar] endowment and they can’t get enough buses?” he said.

Transpo released a fleet of about 20 buses to run throughout the city during the game. The shuttle company began delivering busloads of fans to Library Circle three hours before kickoff and did not stop until 45 minutes before the Irish took the field.

As Dave Holkien of Elkhart walked along Juniper Road after being dropped off by a bus at Library Circle, he rolled his eyes and pointed at the new Jordan Hall of Science.

“I just want them to remove that building so we can have more parking,” he said. “But it’s hard to say, I guess [parking] was the same as always.”

Fans that were planning to park in Blue field south were redirected to White field north, a grassy lot just north of Douglas Road and west of Juniper Road.

After the game, disappointed fans flooded back on the Transpo buses. Defeated, hoarse and tired, they searched the parking lots for their cars.

Peter Salvador from San Francisco said White field north had no signs to help drivers remember where they parked their vehicles.

“I saw this older couple walking around, and I don’t know if they ever found their car,” he said. “The older man disappeared into the night.

“This one couple couldn’t find their car either, and it had taken them an hour and a half, so I let them in my car and I said, ‘Hey, I’ll drive you around to find it.'”

Twenty minutes later, after driving up and down each row of the lot, the couple finally spotted their car, Salvador said.

Outbound traffic did not run as smoothly as the inbound pattern, Johnson said.

“The outbound pattern was crowded,” he said. “Michigan State is our largest drive-in game of the season … and everyone left at the same time. Unfortunately that had some impact on the traffic.”

Johnson will meet with county police and Transpo officials next week to assess the situation and make adjustments before the next home football game on Oct. 15.