The Gainesville Police Department enforced a road closure on University Avenue for the first time during the football game this past Saturday.
The road block, announced in an email to season ticket holders weeks before the season began, was intended to a be proactive way of protecting pedestrians during high foot-traffic hours. After analyzing recent tragedies, such as the truck crash in Nice, France, GPD spokesman Ben Tobias said the department decided to be as proactive as it could.
The roadblock was enforced three hours before the game and two hours after. The only hiccup police faced was when their original detour route, 22nd street, was closed down due to emergency work, and they had to push the detour to 23rd street, according to Tobias.
After speaking with officers and people who were there, Tobias said it went as well as it possibly could.
“Anytime you do something so major, there’s always going to be some negative reaction. I don’t think there was any negativity in the end, though,” Tobias said.
The detour affected not only drivers but O’Connell Center employees who handle football parking. Brendan Clough, an event staff employee said minor adjustments were needed for staffing to accommodate the changes.
Although Clough said GPD gave plenty of notice, he noticed many drivers seemed to be confused about the changes.
“It’s the first time they did it, so the execution was a little less than ideal,” he said. “There was some confusion between us and the officers but that was to be expected. By the end we had it figured out,”
Michelle Brady, a University of Florida alumna and season ticket holder, agrees with the new precaution because of the obvious hazards the situation presented in the past.
A lot of the people walking around University Avenue at that time are families, Brady said. She worried about all of the children and tailgaters in that area and how susceptible they were to cars.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction. A lot of times, we don’t take these kind of precautions until something bad has happened,” she said. “With things like this or the clear bag policy, yeah it’s annoying, especially for women, but I totally get why they’re doing it. You’d hate for something unfortunate to happen,”
Brady said in the past she would always avoid driving through University Avenue on game days because of the traffic, and she suggests people find alternate routes.