Texas A&M: Plans in place for Thursday night football opener

Last year, 95,855 people attended A&M’s Thursday night opener, in which the Aggies defeated Northwestern State 59-7. Nine days later, 104,794 fans packed Kyle Field for the Aggies’ tilt with then-No. 2 Clemson.

For the second consecutive year, Texas A&M’s football team will kick off its season on a Thursday night — and Texas A&M Transportation Institute officials said Wednesday they view Aug. 29’s combination of a full A&M class day and a football game as “two days in one.”

Texas A&M football hosts Texas State at 7:30 p.m. one week from today.

A&M and Texas State also played on a Thursday night in 2005, when the threat of Hurricane Rita’s approach caused officials to move up the game by two days.

A&M President Michael K. Young has approved the early release of all non-essential personnel at 1 p.m. Aug. 29; faculty and staff associated with classroom support are considered essential personnel. A university web page reads: “Professors are not being directed to cancel classes and buildings have been scheduled to remain open in support of the university’s academic and research missions.”

Madison Metsker-Galarza, assistant transportation researcher at TTI, and TTI Regents Fellow Tim Lomax said Wednesday they encourage commuters who use Wellborn Road to take an alternate route that afternoon and evening.

Metsker-Galarza and Lomax said fans will be able to access 12th Man, Tailgate and HOV permit lots beginning at 3:30 p.m., while students have until 4:30 to move their cars out of lots, including those around Reed Arena. 

“What went amazingly right last year is that everybody followed the rules,” Lomax said. He said nine cars were towed out of more than 10,000 available spaces, a lower number than expected. Lomax said the data helped the game day transportation task force realize that they could push back “be out” times for students that were considerably earlier in 2018.

Game day parking and tailgating at Fan Field is available beginning at 7 a.m. for $20 for the public and is free with any valid Texas A&M or 12th Man permit.

Metsker-Galarza and Lomax said 90 buses will be in operation Aug. 29, compared to about 65 on a regular class day. Buses will be added to the Bush School route all day to accommodate additional riders who parked in Fan Field. Game day routes begin at 5:30 p.m.

Shuttle buses will be available from Downtown Bryan and from Momentum Plaza off Copperfield Parkway

Metsker-Galarza said Lyft and Uber have a handful of designated pick-up and drop-off locations, and that VeoRide bike rides of less than 30 minutes are free through Aug. 29.

Lomax said that following the game, traffic engineers in the area shift the timing of traffic signals to allow for longer green lights headed away from Kyle Field and out of town, particularly on heavily used thoroughfares such as southbound Texas Avenue and F.M. 2818. That helps them to more efficiently push traffic out of the area, he said.

Metsker-Galarza and Lomax also encouraged commuters to avoid Wellborn Road after lunchtime.

“Last year, we saw a lot of challenges, especially in the afternoon,” Metsker-Galarza said of Wellborn traffic. “If you’re trying to get home from work and there’s another way to go, our big push to the community is to recommend that.” 

“It’s fine to use if you’re going somewhere near the stadium,” Lomax said. “If you’re just traveling through, use 2818, Texas Avenue, the Bypass, I-45 — somewhere that’s not Wellborn Road,” Lomax said with a laugh.

More information about game day bus schedules and which lots will have limited entry or need to be cleared can be found at footballthursday.tamu.edu

Tailgating and RV parking information can also be found at the site.

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