A civil engineering graduate student at Florida Atlantic University is working on a proposed evacuation plan for the new campus stadium scheduled to open in the fall.
The stadium will have 30,000 seats, making it the largest sports venue in the Palm Beach County. While plans exist to regulate traffic to the stadium on event days, no evacuation plan exists in the event of an emergency.
The plans that do exist include building more parking facilities, negotiating with PalmTran to provide additional shuttles on event days from the Yamato Road Tri- Rail station and widening FAU Boulevard on campus to handle the additional traffic.
However, as graduate student Alexandra Johnsen writes in her initial proposal, "preliminary infrastructure plans are intended to handle stadium traffic, not necessarily an evacuation."
To develop an emergency evacuation plan, "you have to see how many people are there, you simulate different scenarios, different cases," says Evangelos Kaisar, a professor of transportation in FAU's Civil Engineering department. "That way you can be prepared in case the scenario happens."
Johnsen's emergency scenario is a tornado alert, which is associated with severe thunderstorms and common in Florida. The main focus of the research would be to "assess the existing roads' ability to handle an evacuation of the stadium," Jonhsen said.
While no formal federal regulations for traffic flow following emergency evacuations of stadiums, suggestion by federal and local agencies, like Homeland Security, do exist. Jonhsen's plan would take those into consideration.
Kaisar, who is overseeing Johnsen's project, says that after completion of the research and the formation of the evacuation plan, the proposal would be submitted to the Federal Transportation Administration for review.