Harris County Unveils Super Bowl Traffic Nightmare Survival Guide

After two years' worth of planning with a host of various agencies, Harris County officials have announced a transportation guide for surviving Super Bowl traffic. They're calling it the #KnowBeforeYouGo transportation plan.

The guide includes Metro shuttles that will run every 15 minutes, directions for navigating downtown road closures, an app to pay for parking in advance and even a bike valet. Officials said at a press conference Tuesday that as many as one million extra people are expected to descend on Houston in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, with between 120,000 and 160,000 extra people crowding downtown per day.

And if that one particular football team in Texas that may have a shot at making it all the way actually does it, then Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says this #KnowBeforeYouGo guide will probably be that much more useful.

"It's not the day of the game around the stadium that should deter people so much. It's the week of activities leading up to it, when we have as many as 100,000 people every day trying to go hither and yon to visit the various activity sites," Emmett said. "If a certain team makes it to the Super Bowl who happens to be nearby in the state of Texas, they're all gonna come down here for the whole week. The crowd will be huge regardless. But there are certain scenarios where the crowd could be enormous."

So here's what the guide entails:

First, those annoying road closures. Bob Eury, executive director of the Downtown Management District, said most of the annoying road closures will be on the east side of downtown near the George R. Brown Convention Center, and that you'll want to enter downtown from the west side. For downtown employees using U.S. 59 to get in, Eury said to use the Gray Street exit because Polk will be closed between Austin and La Branch from January 26 through February 6. Other closures include: Dallas (between Austin and La Branch); La Branch (between Walker and Bell); and, in the area surrounding Discovery Green, Avenida de las Americas, McKinney and Lamar streets. Some may be partially closed as early as January 19.

Second, those helpful free Metro shuttles. So if you do drive downtown, but park 17 blocks away from one of those Super Bowl activities Emmett mentioned, no worries: Eury says Metro shuttles will be operating in the downtown area on various routes going from parking lots to hot spots like Discovery Green, where Super Bowl Live will be held. The shuttles will also run through Midtown and the Galleria (the Galleria one costs $2). Throughout the week, Metro will also be operating on extended hours; Metro spokesman Jerome Gray said service will run two hours past when the last Super Bowl event ends, so you won't need to worry about leaving early to catch a ride.

Third, that whole parking deal.
Eury says there are at least 62,500 parking spaces downtown, in addition to metered street parking. Of course, most of the spaces will probably be full at the moment you go looking for one, because that always happens. But again, not to worry: You will be able to purchase parking in advance thanks to the Super Bowl Host Committee's new app. The app allows you to select and reserve a parking space from various $10-, $20- or $30-per-day lots, depending on the location.

Fourth, avoid all of the above by simply riding your bike. BikeHouston will be operating a "bike valet" downtown, Eury said. So if you don't want to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, pay for parking and then have to take a Metro shuttle to finally get to your destination, this appears to be the solution.

For more information, visit the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee's webpage for the #KnowBeforeYouGo transportation guide.

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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn