Parking at Redskins Stadium will be by permit only on Sunday in order to ease the traffic congestion that occurred at the season's first game, a Maryland highway official said last night. He said those intending to pay cash to park will be directed to nearby US Airways Arena.
"We're confident things will work out," said Eric Tabacek, a traffic engineer with the State Highway Administration. Tabacek, who has worked on the stadium project from the start, said new road signs are being prepared to guide motorists. An extensive publicity campaign is being planned to explain the new system, he said.
On Sept. 12, when the Redskins opened their season against the Dallas Cowboys, about 30,000 motorists contended for the 22,000 parking spots at the stadium, officials said, and many motorists described nightmarish experiences.
One fan said he searched for nearly two hours for a parking spot. Another said he drove around looking for a space for so long that his friends went into the stadium without him.
After a meeting Sept. 14, team officials and police pledged to ease the congestion for this Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers but did not detail their plans.
Last night, Tabacek said that the major feature of the plan devised by officials involved closing the stadium grounds to those paying cash to park.
"We are going to hit everyone before they go," said Tabacek, "and let them know, 'Hey, if you don't have a permit, don't go to the stadium to park.' " He said officials expect that those paying cash will learn of the plan in time to go directly to the US Airways site, which is about a mile east of the stadium. Those who go to the stadium expecting to pay cash will be turned away at the gates by police, he said.