Florida State and Michigan fans face plenty of uncertainties leading up to Friday’s Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium: Will Michigan be able to shake off its season-closing loss against rival Ohio State? How much playing time will standout Florida State running back Dalvin Cook see? Will Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight be fully healthy?
But this much is certain: There will be traffic and lots of it. And it will start building up hours before the 8 p.m. kickoff. Traffic that will affect not just fans bound for “The Rock,” but South Florida residents minding their own business who need to get somewhere via Interstate 95 Friday afternoon or evening.
To help fans and non-fans alike, the Florida Department of Transportation is recommending that drivers download the Florida 511 app to get alerts and information on traffic before the game. Drivers can also sign up for email and text alerts on the site.
Traffic will likely start to build up around noon as people make their way to Miami Gardens to tailgate before the action starts. FDOT anticipates heavy traffic on I-95 between downtown Miami and the Golden Glades Interchange from the afternoon until about 9 p.m.
Most of the stadium’s cash lots will open at 4 p.m. All hang tag lots as well as Lots 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13 will open at 2 p.m. RV lots open at 9 a.m. Off-site parking is also available at the nearby Walmart off Northwest 27th Avenue and 199th Street and at Norwood Elementary, just east of the Turnpike off 199th Street.
Only fans with game tickets will be allowed into the lots. Drivers can also use their SunPass to pay for parking electronically.
The tailgate areas will be similar to Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes games, but parts of the south and southwest parking lots will be taken up by the Fan Fest before the game.
The stadium’s designated Uber zone, added this fall with the stadium’s makeover, is in the east parking lot. But like so much associated with bowl games, taking Uber won’t necessarily be cheap. Users can expect surge pricing — multiples of the usual rate — given the likely high demand for rides to and from the game, said Javier Correoso, Uber spokesman.
The Orange Bowl will be only the third meeting between the sixth-ranked Wolverines and No. 10 Seminoles and the first time the teams have played each other since 1991. Both teams have several players from the South Florida area, including Cook, a Miami Central graduate.
A Rockport Analytics study showed that the 2015-16 Orange Bowl generated about $227 million in economic impact for the South Florida area.