Transportation plan for U.S. Open unveiled

A fleet of 290 buses — from luxury coaches to the yellow school variety — will provide free transportation to U.S. Open spectators from parking areas in Puyallup and Lakewood to the Chambers Bay golf course for the June golf championship, the USGA announced Wednesday.

Organizers said they will use the vehicles to get golf fans from the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood to the University Place course.

University Place public works director Gary Cooper said the USGA has secured buses of all kinds, including contracting with private motor coach providers and some school districts.

“They’ve drawn those buses in from everywhere,” said Cooper, who worked with USGA officials to help draft the transportation plan released Wednesday. “It’s a great plan.”

Transportation officials for Lakewood, University Place and the state Department of Transportation also said Wednesday that road construction projects will be halted or altered at tournament time to try to ease traffic congestion expected during the event.

That includes two big projects on Interstate 5 through Tacoma, where contractors are expected to keep freeway lanes open from June 12-23, said Cara Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

“We recognized that the traffic congestion is expected to be heavier the week before and the week of the tournament, so we had special provisions written into those contracts,” Mitchell said.

More than 250,000 people are expected to attend the U.S. Open during its June 15-21 run, according to the USGA.

Parking in and around Chambers Bay will be severely restricted. University Place officials also will close down some streets near the course, including Grandview Drive West, Cooper said.

USGA officials hope spectators will use the free parking and shuttle service. Shuttles will run continuously beginning at 5:30 a.m. each day of the championship, including the Monday-through-Wednesday practice rounds. The last shuttle will leave the golf course one hour after play ends each day.

Spectators will be encouraged to use parking facilities based on the geographic area from which they are traveling. Between the two sites, more than 21,000 parking spots will be available, the USGA said.

Spectators driving from points north and east of University Place will be directed to the so-called Red Lot at the fairgrounds. The ride from there to Chambers Bay is expected to take about 30 minutes.

Spectators driving from points west or south of the golf course will be directed to the Blue Lot at Fort Steilacoom Park. The ride from there is expected to take about 25 minutes.

USGA officials would not say exactly how they plan to keep traffic flowing smoothly on Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest and Bridgeport Way Southwest in Lakewood, the heavily traveled arterials leading to Fort Steilacoom Park.

“We are confident, after hosting many championships in small communities, that this plan will minimize delays for local residents while ensuring safe and orderly parking and shuttle services for all attendees,” said Hank Thompson, director of U.S. Open administration for the USGA.

Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler referred questions about traffic control to USGA officials.

While there will be no spectator parking at the golf course, there will be a drop-off zone at Sunset Primary School, with access off Beckonridge Drive. Only 12-passenger or smaller vehicles will be allowed to use the drop-off zone, the USGA said. There also will be parking for bicycles at the school. No bikes will be allowed through the gates at the event.

The walk from the school to the golf course should take 5-10 minutes.

“Parking restrictions surrounding the championship grounds and within the xity of University Place will be closely monitored and enforced,” the USGA said in a news release.

Information about further road closures in University Place during the sold-out tournament will be announced later.