The Oneida Nation Gate at Lambeau Field on Sept. 9. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
At left, Joel Hunt and Bart Bartelme, both field assistants, paint the letters at Lambeau Field on Sept. 14. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
The Green Bay area will see an influx of drivers this weekend with Sunday’s Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field — the first home game since the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge was closed more than a week ago.
While the closure of the span, which carries Interstate 43 over the Fox River, has altered the landscape of travel in and around the city, law enforcement officials say they don’t expect much to be different this weekend from other game days. But officials said people need to plan ahead and have patience when dealing with traffic.
“Leave early. Leave earlier than you ever have before,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation traffic engineer Randy Asman urged fans traveling to the game via U.S. 41 and Wisconsin 172.
A traffic bottleneck is expected at the 41-172 interchange in Ashwaubenon, south of Lambeau Field, so drivers are urged to leave freeways sooner than usual and find alternate routes on city streets.
Ashland Avenue and Oneida Street tend to be underutilized on gold package game days, which are for Milwaukee season ticket holders, said Lt. Jody Crocker of Ashwaubenon Public Safety. Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions is a gold package game. Kickoff is at noon.
“U.S. 41 northbound before Lombardi Avenue is going to be backed up,” Crocker said. “There’s no doubt about it. It happens every game day.”
An auxiliary lane on northbound 41 between 172 and Lombardi Avenue will remain open, Asman said.
Seven extra Wisconsin State Patrol officers and a State Patrol plane will be used to help monitor Packers traffic, Asman said.
Officials closed the bridge last week after one of the support columns sunk between 22 and 27 inches, causing a sag in the road surface. Officials continue to investigate the reason for the sagging bridge and assess its condition.
Coming from the south, drivers have the option of several exits off U.S. 41 including Ashland Avenue in De Pere, Wisconsin 172 to Ashland Avenue, Oneida Street and Lombardi Avenue, Crocker said.
Coming from the north, travelers there are several points before Lombardi Avenue where drivers can exit, including Mason Street and Velp Avenue.
“You don’t have to take Lombardi,” Crocker said. “There are different ways to get off and start working your way up to the stadium. Everybody thinks of Lombardi as the only way to get there, and it’s not. Especially coming from the south.”
Wisconsin 172 to the Oneida Street/Ashland Avenue exit, with a right turn to Ashland, is an option for travelers coming from I-43.
The Packers have noted the closure of the bridge on its website and are encouraging fans who use the span to find alternate routes. The team expects to release more travel and game day information Thursday.
The Green Bay Police Department plans staffing the game like it normally would, but will pay close attention to traffic patterns around the stadium and adjust traffic control as needed.
“We’re going to be monitoring the main intersections before and after the game, and if they start to get jammed up, we’ll send an officer to that intersection to help clear it out,” said Lt. Jeff Brester of the Green Bay Police Department. “If there are intersections we don’t normally have staffed start to be a problem, we’re going to send a patrol officer to clear it out.”
Green Bay area drivers got their first taste of life in a world without the bridge last week. While traffic slowdowns we were reported with the change in traffic flow, transportation officials said the things went smoothly as drivers started to adjust to new routes.
“For the most part, the community has adjusted to the traffic patterns of the bridge being out,” Brester said. “The only thing we can suggest for the Packer game is give yourself even more time because there are going to be extra vehicles in the city.”
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