Penn-Trafford officials seek to ease traffic issues at home games

| Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Penn-Trafford officials this fall are trying to alleviate parking issues and traffic congestion during home football games.

Instead of the customary bumper-to-bumper parking setup at the high school, fans will be directed to use the marked parking spots, athletic director Kerry Hetrick said. Any overflow traffic will be parked at the Penn Township Municipal Complex, where a shuttle will be provided if fans don't want to walk the half-mile distance to Warrior Stadium.

School officials came up with the new parking plan during discussions with Penn Township police about ways to reduce traffic jams following school events, like football games and graduation.

Friday night football games generally attract 3,000 to 4,000 spectators to a Harrison City campus that is near the intersection of two two-lane highways, routes 130 and 993.

“The problem was when we parked people bumper-to-bumper, you were stuck here,” Hetrick said. “The best thing is to use the spots so people can leave freely.”

Police Chief John Otto continues to work with school officials on other ways to improve the traffic flow on game nights.

Otto has said he wants the roads to be clear enough to accommodate emergency vehicles, as well as limit the inconvenience for residents or other drivers who aren't attending the events.

For the graduation ceremony in May, police and firefighters tried a plan to create steady streams of traffic by directing people coming out of the main high school entrance to turn left onto Route 130 and those leaving by the stadium to turn right onto Manor-Harrison City Road.

Though that “full-blown evacuation” plan might not be replicated this fall, some aspects of that traffic-control process might be in place again on football nights, Otto said.

“I think we may try to walk before we run,” Otto said of finding the best course.

On a long-range basis, police, township and school officials are trying to improve communication to best prepare for nights when several events are taking place.

The district's moving of graduation to the Friday before Memorial Day for the 2013 class pushed the ceremony onto a day in which a three-day softball tournament began at the Municipal Park fields.

“When community and school events coincide with one another, it's a huge problem,” Otto said.

One community group already has made an alteration to its fall plans to reduce traffic on football nights.

The Penn-Trafford Area Recreation Commission won't have recreational swims on Fridays, choosing to offer that activity on Mondays and Tuesdays this fall, said Toni Ising, a member of the PTARC and school boards.

In the end, schools officials just want to try to provide the best experience for fans.

“Believe me, we want the demand,” Hetrick said. “We want the people here.”

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