Traffic Pattern Gets Updated

Sports Editor

St. Marys City Schools officials, city of St. Marys officials and the St. Marys Police Department are changing the traffic pattern at Memorial High School for football games beginning Friday.

Entrances to each parking lot will remain the same, but exiting routes will change.

The city of St. Marys and school officials released details on Wednesday, with the biggest change coming in Lot A as traffic parked in the north parking lot of the school will exit out onto state Route 66 — which is usually an entrance-only opening. Traffic parked in the school’s staff parking lot in front of the school and traffic parked in the lot east of the school will exit out of Shipman Road only.

“The idea is to split up traffic,” Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said. 

SMCS Safety and Transportation Supervisor Dan Grothause said that since the first home game, school officials, the city, including the engineer’s office and SMPD have thought of different ways to get two lanes of traffic out of the stadium heading southbound. In trying to get traffic out, the focus zeroed in on parking lots around the high and middle schools.

“We are trying to find out a way to get everybody out the quickest,” Grothause said. “Next year we have our two large games — Celina and Wapak — so we are finding a way to get everybody through as quick as we can and as safe as we can.

“It was a team effort. We batted around ideas and we thought this was a way to accomplish that task without doing any infrastructure changes.”

Traffic from Lots B and C will still exit out onto state Route 66 from Shipman Road, but traffic can still enter Lot A on Shipman Road. Student pickup must enter via Shipman Road. 

SMPD Chief Jake Sutton said the department’s two biggest priorities are safety and a positive fan experience.

“This is all new to us, so it is important for us to figure out what is the most safest and expedite way that we can get the traffic out after the game,” he said. “We only had one exit point before so we have been in contact with the school and try to problem-solve how to get people out quickly and not have what we did have in the first game.”

As traffic from Lot A exits onto 66, Sutton added that 66 northbound will be one lane and will have two southbound lanes — one from Shipman Road and the other will come from Lot A. Vehicles, however, cannot drive northbound on 66 when they exit out of Lot A. Traffic leaving Lot A will only be allowed to drive southbound toward U.S. 33.

“That seemed to be our biggest cause of congestion of having the entire school parking lot exit onto Shipman with the traffic from the stadium,” Sutton added. “So we trying to relieve some of that congestion by getting them out of two points.

“If you want to go to 66 north, you don’t want to park in the north parking lot of the school. You want to either park where the staff does in front of the school or behind where the commons is because you will go out on Shipman.”

Foxhoven added that two workers from General Services will put cones down around 8 p.m. on 66 to create the two southbound and one northbound lane and a police officer will be at the Lot A exit and another at the Shipman Road intersection to better control traffic. Foxhoven said both officers will be able to work in concert to make the sure traffic flows constantly. 

The first home game against Van Wert took people anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes to empty the lots. The second game against Shawnee had the time down to 10 to 30 minutes and last week’s game was about the same as the Shawnee game.

“I think people are figuring out what they need to do to get out and as we go through this process to figure out what is and what is not working we will simply make those adjustments,” Foxhoven concluded.