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Headed to the big game? Here are tips on how to get around

Don't let gridlock spoil your week of gridiron greatness.

Traffic promises to be messy during Super Bowl week, when thousands of additional vehicles will swarm to already-crowded North Texas roads. But with a little planning, getting around shouldn't be a major problem in the days leading up to the Feb. 6 game at Cowboys Stadium.

Protections are in place, whether your intent is to catch an ESPN broadcast at Sundance Square, chomp down on some serious vittles at the Taste of NFL at the Fort Worth Convention Center or seek autographs at the NFL Experience at the Dallas Convention Center.

Here are some tips to help navigate your way through the historic week:

Take the Trinity Railway Express

Many pre-game events are in downtown Fort Worth and Dallas, both of which are served by TRE. The commuter rail line is adding Sunday service on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 and will deploy extra rail cars to handle overflow.

In Fort Worth, for example, the TRE stops at the Intermodal Transportation Center, which is about a seven-minute walk from Sundance Square.

TRE fares are $7 for an adult day pass within the Fort Worth area, or $10 for Fort Worth and Dallas (also good on any Fort Worth or Dallas bus). Reduced fares are available for seniors, children and people with disabilities. Also, officials plan to offer a commemorative four-day, region-wide transit pass for $30, good for travel Feb. 3-6.

TRE riders who want to check out a Fort Worth museum or the historic Stockyards can transfer for free to Molly the Trolley. The rubber-tire trolleys will run on expanded routes during Super Bowl week.

Molly the Trolley circulates about every 10 minutes through downtown, and also offers rides to the ITC train station, museums in the Cultural District and the historic North Side.

Parking is free at TRE stations outside downtown areas - for example, Richland Hills, Hurst and CenterPort/DFW. So the TRE is not only less of a hassle than driving downtown, but in some cases cheaper than parking at a paid lot.


Turn off that GPS device, unless it's OnStar

Most navigational devices don't have the latest information on which streets will be closed, or where traffic lanes will be reversed, said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

An exception is OnStar, which agreed to put this year's Super Bowl routes into its system.

Customers with tickets to the game or other events should follow directions provided at time of purchase, he said.

Use the freeways

It may be tempting to use shortcuts, but chances are the fastest way to get around will be on one of the designated Super Bowl priority corridors.

They include: Interstate 30 in Tarrant and Dallas counties; Texas 360, Farm Road 157 (Collins Street) and U.S. 180 (Division Street) in Arlington; and Texas 121/183 (Airport Freeway) from downtown Fort Worth to D/FW Airport.

On these corridors, more than 30 truckloads of anti-icing and deicing material will be strategically placed, so crews can act quickly in the event of icy weather, a Texas Department of Transportation official said.

Wreckers will patrol freeways, and quickly move stalled or disabled vehicles. The Courtesy Patrol will be on hand along I-30 and Texas 360 to help motorists with empty gas tanks, tire changes and other minor repairs.

Also, the transportation department has directed contractors to suspend any construction or maintenance work on these roads from Jan. 29 to Feb. 7.

"If there is a lane closure, it will be for emergency purposes only, and picked up as soon as possible," spokesman Val Lopez said.

Shortcuts on city streets may be ideal during a typical work week, but perhaps not as reliable on this occasion.


Be careful in Grapevine

Some Super Bowl-related activities are in the Grapevine area, including the Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast on Feb. 5 at the Gaylord Texan resort.

But that area is in the midst of a four-year, $1 billion highway makeover known as the DFW Connector -- it's the complete reconstruction of the Texas 114/121 corridor and the D/FW Airport north entrance.

The DFW Connector contractor has agreed not to close lanes during Super Bowl week, but crews will still be doing work on the roadsides -- and temporary lanes in that area are narrow and tricky. So be patient and expect at least minor delays.

Take shortcuts to Sundance Square

Although the freeways are a good option for getting to the general area of downtown Fort Worth, actually exiting into the commercial district -- where ESPN is broadcasting live all week -- is a bit tricky, especially from the north.

In that area, I-35W shrinks to a ridiculous two lanes in each direction, and traffic sometimes backs up for a mile or two trying to get through downtown.

So, for those heading south on I-35W, avoid the official downtown exit at Spur 280 and instead exit earlier, at either Belknap Street or Pharr Road, and take the back roads into downtown.

Once inside the downtown area, be prepared for street closures around Sundance Square -- including Houston and Main streets, between Third and Fifth streets, as well as Fourth Street between Commerce and Throckmorton.

Police will be on hand to ensure traffic flow, and signs will point motorists to detours.

Watch the orange barrels on Division Street

In Arlington, the Texas 360/Division Street interchange is still under construction, and traffic trying to get from Texas 360 into the Arlington entertainment district must use temporary lanes. But transportation department officials say they don't expect major problems, although there may be minor slowdowns.

Avoid Cowboys Stadium in Arlington unless you have a ticket

Streets such as Cowboys Way and Legends Way near the Stadium will be closed two weeks before the game, and Randol Mill Road and Collins Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction as kickoff nears.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Collins Street will be southbound only. Those who live near the stadium will be able to get in and out, but patience is recommended.

Be aware of ongoing work on the Texas 161 toll road project in Irving and Grand Prairie

Officials say the Texas 161 frontage roads under construction between I-30 and Division Street will be completed before the Super Bowl, and some ticket holders -- particularly those coming from the Dallas area -- will be encouraged to use that route.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

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