Traffic after Gopher games gets out of control

Metro Transit and Minneapolis Police operate the streets after Gopher games.

Andy Steinke

Cars, trucks, city buses, light-rail trains, police officers, shuttle buses, RVs, musicians and thousands of pedestrians.

These are the ingredients mixing in the streets outside the Metrodome after a typical Minnesota Gophers football game.

Cars and buses plug side streets, parking lots and major roads, while pedestrians cross the streets in herds trying to get to their cars or buses.

With people and vehicles trying to get away from the Dome as quickly as possible, some people have wondered whose job it is to control the congestion and chaos.

Barry Peterson, a University alumnus, said he worried about just that after seeing the heavy foot traffic following the Minnesota-Purdue football game two weeks ago.

“There were three or four straight minutes of pedestrians crossing the street,” he said. “No one took leadership to say ‘let these cars go.’ “

“Without traffic control there is nothing to stop the cars from being stacked up over the light-rail tracks,” he said.

University Deputy Police Chief Steve Johnson said University police help with security inside the Metrodome during the game, but have a limited presence outside the Dome when the game is over.

“We have a couple officers assigned where the University shuttle buses load,” he said. “They make sure the students get on in an orderly fashion.”

Otherwise, the Minneapolis Police Department’s Traffic Control Unit and the Metropolitan Transit Police control traffic outside the Dome after the game, Johnson said.

Transit police have several officers detailed around the train tracks after a game to keep pedestrians and drivers safe, Transit Lt. Joe Cardenes said.

“For any game at the Metrodome, we try to have 20 people around the line,” he said. “We have about seven or eight guys at the Dome platform to keep the cars off the tracks.”

The rest of the officers are stationed at other sections of the light-rail track near the Metrodome, he said.

“We are worried about both pedestrians and cars, but our main concern is the pedestrians,” Cardenes said.

He also said traffic control personnel are usually outside the Dome an hour before and an hour after a game.

The post-game traffic isn’t without the occasional car getting stuck on the track when a train is coming, however, Cardenes said.

Psychology sophomore Ashley Guttuso said things are busy outside the Dome after a Gophers football game.

She said she can’t remember seeing any sort of traffic control outside the Dome after the game.

“It’s really chaotic,” she said. “People try to get to the other side of the street however they can.”