Graduation weekend will see an increase in traffic

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COLUMBIA – More than 2,300 students will receive degrees from The University of Missouri this weekend, which means heavy traffic will be filling up the city.

Many of the students are graduating from the Hearnes Center. Columbia’s Convention and Visitor Bureau said the Stadium Blvd is expected to get extremely busy, especially between the intersections of Providence and College.  

“The area kind of over at Stadium and Providence can kind of see a little bit more backing up just because that’s right at those major entry ways to campus so that’s how most people know to find their way onto campus,” said The Bureau’s Strategic Communications Manager Megan McConachie.

There are also many students graduating from Jesse Auditorium.

McConachie says she recommends that people going to Jesse park in the parking structures nearby or find street parking. 

Along with campus, McConachie says she expects downtown to see a lot more traffic than usual as well. 

“Because campus is adjacent to the district, the district really gets a lot busier on a graduation weekend, families want to go out for really nice dinner after graduation or a really nice brunch the day after graduation, so there will be a lot of traffic centered around the district and really all over Columbia where there are resturaunts,” McConachie said. 

Garages are free on Saturdays and Sundays in the district, but not every parking structure is available on campus.

MU Operations Communication Manager Karlan Seville said the Tiger Avenue Parking Structure and Parking Structure 7 are not available for parking because of MU Health Care staff usage. 

On Friday, level 3 of Turner is available for visitors. On Saturday, Hitt, University, Virginia, Conley and Turner parking structures can be used for parking. 

The University of Missouri Police Department also plays a big role in making sure the city is safe and traffic runs smoothly. To prepare for the weekend, MUPD looks at what colleges are graduating, class sizes and how close the colleges are to one another. 

The police department will have most of its officers directing traffic near the Hearnes Center. 

MUPD Public Information Officer Brian Weimer said he recommends that people prepare for long travel times. “The biggest thing is to allow yourself extra time because there are several people coming and going to the graduation venues,” Weimer said.

He also said to make sure you follow the traffic flow patterns, signs and police officers. “Traffic flow patterns are used to move large groups of people, but not individual people. The goal is to get many hundreds of people away from the area,” he said.

The graduation ceremonies are as followed:

Friday, Dec. 15:

  • Office of Graduate Studies – 1 p.m. in the Hearnes Center
  • School of Nursing - 2 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium
  • Trulaske College of Business – 4:30 p.m. in the Hearnes Center
  • School of Natural Resources – 6:30 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium
  • College of Arts and Science – 7:30 p.m. in the Hearnes Center 

Saturday, Dec. 16:

  • Honors Convocation – 8:30 a.m. in Jesse Auditorium
  • College of Engineering – Noon in the Hearnes Center
  • College of Human Environmental Sciences/School of Social Work – 1 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium
  • College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources – 4 p.m. in the Hearnes Center
  • School of Health Professions – 5 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium

Sunday, Dec. 17:

  • ROTC Commissioning of Officers – Location and time TBD
  • School of Journalism – 1 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium

A Mizzou online commencement will also be held for students who earn their degrees online. Around 200 will graduate from the online program.

According to a MU news release, MU will give out 2,509 degrees this weekend. This includes 1,932 bachelor’s degrees, 414 master’s degrees, 147 doctorates, four law degrees, 11 education specialist degrees and one medical degree.

With the increase in visitors, McConachie said her biggest suggestion to local residents is to “just to be ready to be patient, and take your time and remember that having visitors here in Columbia is a really great opportunity for our community’s economy, so just a few extra minutes of patience can go along way.” 

Shuttle services for the campus end on Friday at 6 p.m. and start back up on Jan. 10.

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