While many students are unaware of the boundaries between campus and the city of Ann Arbor, the city is are all too aware of the burden — primarily financial — it bears as a result of proximity to the University. With that economic strain in mind, the Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution requiring the University to reimburse the city for traffic services provided for special events, like football game days.
As part of the agreement, the city will reduce the amount of traffic control it provides for football games, focusing mostly on the intersection of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard before games begin. Other areas will be neglected by traffic control and likely result in more traffic congestion on campus streets. Since these changes were not put into effect for Saturday’s game against Notre Dame, the University will be required to reimburse the city for traffic services rendered.
The city’s reaction is understandable considering the chaos of game day traffic that involves both vehicles and pedestrians. It takes a great deal of manpower and organization to keep the process efficient and safe, and the city should not be alone in this task. However, City Council’s resolution implies that game days are primarily the business of the University, and that doesn’t provide the full picture.
Football Saturdays bring thousands of people to Ann Arbor and create revenue for both the city and surrounding businesses. Restaurants and shops benefit from the increase of foot traffic and business from out-of-town shoppers, and the city accumulates money from traffic tickets as well as other citations that are issued throughout a Football Saturday. While football games and other special events on campus are undoubtedly University events, it’s impossible to completely separate them from the city of Ann Arbor since both parties share the benefits.
In response to the resolution, the city and the University need to learn to cooperate by sharing resources. The process of bringing more than 100,000 people into the Big House several days throughout the fall semester cannot, and should not, be properly managed by the University or the city independently. Instead, both parties should work together to ensure that each is contributing proportionally to gain the benefits.
It is crucial that in response to these changes in traffic services by the city, campus does not become unreasonably jammed and impassable on game days. The University needs to respond accordingly to make sure visitors to campus, as well as residents, can safely and easily travel in the Ann Arbor area. Areas that are losing traffic patrol, like the State Street areas near Briarwood and Eisenhower Boulevard, should be monitored this coming Saturday to evaluate how much patrol is necessary.
Game days involve the entire Ann Arbor community, and efforts need to be taken by both the city and the University to allow Football Saturdays to continue to be safe and efficient for residents, students and visitors.