U.S. Open may turn area roads into sand traps

A road closure sign is ready on Ellis Road at Golf Hills Road in preparation for impending closures and parking restrictions from next week's U.S. Open.
A road closure sign is ready on Ellis Road at Golf Hills Road in preparation for impending closures and parking restrictions from next week's U.S. Open. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photograph)
Posted: June 07, 2013

Along Golf View Road on Tuesday evening, just a few paces from the Merion Golf Club, a group of parents gathered as their children sold lemonade on the sidewalk.

A topic of the evening's discussion: with the U.S. Open arriving next door in a few days, how exactly are people going to get around?

"There's some confusion," said a smiling Lauren Campbell, who lives on the street.

Beginning Sunday, the area surrounding Merion will become a web of road closures, partial closures, and restricted parking areas, and locals like Campbell are piecing together plans to deal with the hubbub.

But with satellite spectator parking lots located as far as 16 miles away in Chester, shuttle buses scheduled to carry spectators to and from those lots, and altered SEPTA schedules along selected lines during the week, the traffic impact from the Open will be felt far beyond the leafy reaches of Merion's immediate vicinity.

"Our police force is prepared for the worst but hoping for the best," said Greg Lebold, manager of Delaware County's Upper Providence Township, home to one of the Open's two satellite parking lots, in Rose Tree Park.

That lot should be able to handle about 3,200 cars, according to U.S. Golf Association spokesman Pete Kowalski.

Lebold said officials there have been planning how to handle traffic for more than a year, and police officers will be stationed at the already-busy entrance to the park - along Providence Road near Route 1 - to help guide traffic. That said, he added that patience will be required, since there will simply be more cars in the area.

"We anticipate there being triple volume in traffic," he said.

The other satellite lot is at PPL Park, in Chester, home of the Philadelphia Union. The lot there will be able to handle 3,500 cars, Kowalski said.

William Payne, Chester's city planner, said that he had not yet discussed traffic plans with the mayor or police commissioner but was hoping to do so this week.

For rail commuters to the Open, SEPTA will run more trains along the Paoli/Thorndale Line during the tournament as well as on the Norristown High Speed Line, both of which stop near the course.

Regional Rail trains should run about every 25 to 30 minutes, according to SEPTA's website, and free shuttle service will be available from the Rosemont station.

The Norristown line - which stops within walking distance of the course - will run every 10 minutes. A full schedule is available at http://www.septa.org/events/usga.html.

Around the course, road closures are to begin Sunday, according to Haverford Township Deputy Chief John Viola.

Three roads immediately bordering the club - Haverford Road, Ardmore Avenue, and Golf House Road - will be closed from 12:01 a.m. Sunday until June 16, he said. If there is a playoff on June 17 or beyond, he added, the closures would stay in effect until the tournament ended.

Several other roads in the vicinity - including College Avenue and Ellis Road - will be closed from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. starting Monday and lasting until the tournament's conclusion, Viola said.

In addition, many roads surrounding the course will be open only to residents with proper permits, which were distributed in May. Guest parking passes are available to local residents through the police department.

All of the permits, closures, and crowds have some who reside nearby making plans to avoid their cars.

"I'm not going anywhere," said Rick Palena of Ardmore, who said he took next week off from work. "I've been telling my friends, treat this as a major winter storm and hunker down."

Contact Chris Palmer, 609-217-8305, cpalmer@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter, @cs_palmer

Inquirer staff writer Jessica Parks contributed to this article.

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