The University has requested the closure of Main Street during home football games to allow for safer foot traffic and to aid security operations.
Jim Kosteva, director of community relations for the University, said the intent is to block Main Street traffic between Pauline Boulevard and Stadium Boulevard starting three hours before the start of each game and reopening an hour after the game’s finish.
Kosteva said the measure is to ensure the safety of the pedestrians and the stadium as the closure would free up the street to allow better access for pedestrian use and for emergency vehicles.
University police spokeswoman Diane Brown said blocking traffic around the west side of the Big House is the last step in an ongoing effort to secure the 100-foot vehicle-free zone around the stadium’s perimeter in order to eliminate “vehicle-borne attacks,” such as a car bomb.
Brown said University police have been working with Ann Arbor police since 2010, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security discussed the idea during meetings about President Barack Obama’s commencement address. Since then, police have already had traffic blocks on Keech Avenue to the north of Michigan Stadium, adjusted the parking area on the east side and made the northernmost lane on Stadium Boulevard a pedestrian drop-off zone.
“Not only was this closure providing for that perimeter around the whole stadium to protect those inside the stadium but it also protects those in the nearby neighborhoods,” she said.
Brown added that Main Street’s closure for the 2011 night game against Notre Dame was a great success. Prior to the one-time traffic block, University and Ann Arbor police met with residents in the surrounding area to discuss the plans for accommodating the disruptions to traffic. Another such meeting will be held on July 24 at the Ann Arbor Downtown Library.
Kosteva said the University is scheduled to go before the Ann Arbor City Council on Aug. 8 with its request for street closures in the fall.
City Councilwoman Margie Teall (D-Ward 4) said there has been resistance to the idea so far since many in the area are already affected by football games.
“This kind of throws another monkey-wrench into that,” she said. “It’s going to change traffic patterns somewhat and people are not happy about that.”
Teall said before area residents can get behind the closure of Main Street there will need to be a clear plan for those who live on the closed-off blocks so they are able to travel conveniently to and from their homes.
Brown said police are working on a plan to accommodate residents and communicate the detour routes to drivers.
Kosteva said the University acknowledged the difficulties inherent in the proposal but said there is much support from the University and Ann Arbor Police Departments.
“(The University and police department) recognize the inconveniences or disruptions that may be caused by virtue of this closure and the disruptions to traffic are a worthwhile tradeoff to provide greater security for patrons and the neighborhoods,” he said.