The University of Oregon held its annual move-in for incoming students — Unpack the Quack — on Sept. 23. The university implemented changes to the regular move-in protocol to combat the spread of COVID-19, but those measures caused a traffic backup along Franklin Boulevard, affecting community members and employees of local businesses as well as students.
This year, students had to verify their vaccination status or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they could move into the dorms, UO spokesperson Saul Hubbard said.
As students and their families began to arrive in Eugene, traffic swarmed Franklin Boulevard. Students whose original check-in times were scheduled for 11 a.m. were caught in traffic and missed the time altogether.
Sophomore Patrick Dolan said his check-in time was originally set for between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., but he was caught in traffic on his way into Eugene. “I didn’t start moving in until 3:00, 3:30-ish because of all the traffic,” Dolan said.
Despite the confusion, Dolan said the staff assisting students during the process were really helpful.
Hubbard said the verification of students’ vaccination status along Riverfront Parkway caused most of the traffic on Franklin. “Some students and families arrived ahead of their scheduled check-in times, which contributed to the long line in the early morning,” he said.
The University of Oregon Police Department helped with traffic as the day progressed. Hubbard said partner groups helped assist UOPD, along with staff who set up a second walk-up check-in area.
“In the end, thanks to these efforts, our check-in process ended around an hour later than originally anticipated,” Hubbard said.
Businesses on Franklin also found themselves affected by a stand-still of incoming traffic. Track Town Pizza was one of the businesses on the way to the student verification process. Tim Hill, one of Track Town Pizza’s owners, said deliveries were closed for a three-hour period that day due to the traffic. “Some of my day-shift people were about an hour, hour and a half late,” Hill said.
While the traffic jam affected Track Town Pizza’s delivery schedule, Hill said people stuck in their cars walked in to get lunch. “We were still really busy,” he said. “People were still coming in to get pizza.”
Judy Chen, an employee at Empire Buffet, said her coworkers were stuck in traffic carpooling to the restaurant. With the traffic not budging, a majority of her coworkers just walked to the restaurant. “The guy that stayed in the car was stuck in traffic for five hours,” Chen said.
Due to the pandemic constantly changing UO’s standard regulations and protocol, Hubbard said it is difficult to predict how next year’s move-in will look.
“Since new move-in protocols tied to COVID-19 were the key cause of the delays this year, and we don’t know yet what COVID-19 safety protocols for move-in might look like in fall 2022, we can’t yet plan or speculate on what might change or do so differently,” Hubbard said.