Ready for some gridiron gridlock? You’d better be if you plan to head to the Bay Area in the next week.
San Francisco and Santa Clara will host the 50th Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday, Feb. 7. That’s 50 minutes south of San Francisco. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m.
But the Super Bowl isn’t just about a game. Out-of-state visitors, Bay Area residents and no doubt a few revelers from Sacramento will be out on the roads in cars, trains, transit and ride shares having Super Bowl-related fun starting this weekend.
That means choosing your timing and your travel mode carefully if you are venturing there over the next week.
Two weeks ago, a group affiliated with Black Lives Matter blocked traffic on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It has prompted some concern that this group or others could use the Super Bowl as a protest stage, causing traffic disruptions. The California Highway Patrol will have a large contingent out to deal with problems in general and disruptive activities in particular.
The best bet for those driving into the Bay Area between now and Super Bowl Sunday is to keep track in real time of what’s happening on the road ahead. Check Google maps, the state’s quickmap.dot.ca.gov, Waze or other app-based, real-time traffic devices.
To start, here is a useful traffic website the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans set up for the week: www.superbowl50traffic.com.
If you’re going to the game
The train is a good option for those heading to the game itself. The Capitol Corridor train service will add trains that day. Expect a rolling party. Trains will stop at a station a little more than a block from Levi’s Stadium. One train will start from Auburn at 8:10 a.m. that Sunday. The first four trains out of Sacramento that day will get you to Santa Clara in time for the game.
Travel time from Sacramento to the stadium is three hours. Round-trip cost is $70 per person. Buy your tickets online early. Alcohol is sold on board the trains, but you aren’t allowed to bring your own.
Check the Capitol Corridor website at www.capitolcorridor.org/SB50.
If you drive to the game
Levi’s Stadium has run into traffic issues in the past when people unfamiliar with the layout show up in large groups, so head there very early. The stadium lots will open at 9 a.m.
Buy your parking permit at superbowl.parkmobile.com. Parking for a car or SUV is $50 or $80 depending on which lot you use. Tailgating is allowed in some lots. Check which ones when you buy your parking pass.
As for which route to go, you have options. Interstate 80 to I-680 is often the best choice, but I-5 and I-580 might be an option depending on traffic.
Do not drink and drive
Whether you’re going to the game, hitting bars in San Francisco, or heading to your friend’s house for a Super Bowl party, keep in mind that having just two alcoholic drinks in an hour puts most of us over the legal limit for blood-alcohol levels. The ticket will cost you thousands of dollars. Worse, drivers who have been drinking are at increased risk of harming themselves and others.
Consider having a designated driver in your group, someone who won’t drink any alcohol that day. Or hire a taxi or ride-sharing service. At worst, stop drinking alcohol at halftime. Switch to water and coffee.
The CHP says it will be sitting on the lookout. “Drunk driving is one of the most serious traffic-related issues we face today,” Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a CHP alert about safety on Super Bowl Sunday. “Plan ahead to avoid a tragedy. Leave your car keys at home if you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, and use public transportation, a designated driver or a ride-sharing service to stay safe.”
Uber, ride-shares and buses
Uber signed a deal to be the only ride-share company that will be allowed to bring riders onto the official Super Bowl site, but the drop-off is still a 15-minute walk to the stadium.
Other ride-share companies and taxis are expected to be in action. Remember you are likely to pay inflated “surge” pricing during peak demand times.
There will be a contingent of Super Bowl buses taking off from various spots around the Bay Area that will take you to the game for $55. Here is the website: www.sfbaysuperbowl.com.
Congestion hot spot: Downtown San Francisco
Even though the football game will take place down the peninsula, expect San Francisco to be the hot spot for activity and congestion from now until Sunday, especially downtown and along the bayfront. There will be two temporary Super Bowl concert and event sites in downtown San Francisco, and both will cause major street closures.
One venue, called Super Bowl City, is on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building at the base of Market Street. It opened Saturday with room for a million people to gather. The Embarcadero and six other streets in the area are closing. The other is the NFL Experience at Moscone Center in the area bounded by Third and Fourth streets, and Mission and Howard streets.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
If you’re heading into San Francisco via the Marin County route, remember, the Golden Gate Bridge now has a cashless toll system. No stopping at the toll plaza anymore. Before heading there, it’s best to go onto the bridge website – www.goldengate.org – and sign your credit card up so they can deduct the toll amount automatically, reducing the risk of a fine for an unpaid bill because it got lost in the mail.