COLUMBIA, S.C. — "If you were down in The Vista today, you probably saw flashing lights and yellow vests. Columbia Police Department was working with University of South Carolina Police to direct traffic for the women’s basketball tournament, and they’ll be back on Sunday for round two.
"Come early, pack your patience, 'cuz we are expecting higher volumes of traffic," Deputy Chief of Police Melron Kelly wants people to remember as March Madness brings visitors into Columbia.
"Huger Street corridor, Blossom Street, Gervais, Assembly," Kelly lists. "Those areas will be impacted by higher volumes of traffic however we will have officers stationed at different points of those intersections to help you move along."
To help, Kelly says Columbia PD has increased its presence around The Vista with 18 different traffic points to help direct travelers.
"A lot of visitors here, so if you make a wrong turn or you need directions, they’re more so ambassadors than cops at this points because we want to help you get to the game on time and safely," Kelly shares.
Students Caitlin Chestler and Kinsey Holman say they found a better alternative.
"I chose to not drive because I wasn't able to get to my apartment, but I learned my lesson," Chestler laughs. "But walking is so accessible here. It’s awesome."
Tor people planning to attend Sunday’s game, fans Zuri and Cherri Harris have some advice.
"Get here early. Early! Definitely early. For the road and parking," they advise.
On Sunday, Kelly says his officers will be in place to help direct traffic a couple hours before the stadium doors open.
"We ask that people as they park to look in well-lit areas and designated parking areas, not private parking lots," Kelly adds.
If you don't want to get stuck in traffic, Kelly says to "avoid the heart of downtown Vista part, that Gervais Street corridor, definitely Huger Street corridor and Blossom Street as that kind of boxes us in to where the higher volumes of traffic are."