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HAMMOND - Motorists and visitors planning to attend Southeastern Louisiana University's commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 17, should anticipate heavy traffic and route changes affecting University Avenue (Hwy. 3234) between Interstate 55 and North Cherry Street.
Southeastern will honor its most acclaimed alumnus, ABC's "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts, with an honorary doctorate during the 10 a.m. ceremony in the University Center, where approximately 1,200 students will receive associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.
Carmen Bray, interim director of University Police, said the section of University Avenue between West Tornado Drive and SGA Drive will be restricted from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that day. Local traffic will be allowed to proceed on University Avenue for as long as possible, but will be diverted through the campus as congestion increases.
Prior to commencement, the University Center parking areas are expected to be filled early, and all traffic on University Avenue will be diverted. Eastbound commencement traffic will be diverted to West Tornado Drive for parking at the University Center, and westbound commencement traffic will be diverted to the campus at SGA Drive.
"Officers will begin directing traffic early in the morning," said Bray. "We anticipate the parking areas around the University Center to be filled before 9 a.m."
Additional parking spaces around the University Center will be set aside for vehicles with appropriate handicapped placards. Individuals requiring handicap accommodations should try to arrive as early as possible.
Vacant parking spaces in the Southeastern Oaks/Greek Village complex will also be used. Residents are requested to use the back gate for entering and exiting between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Southeastern Lion Traxx shuttle buses will be in operation before and after the ceremony to accommodate those parking in outlying areas or needing special transportation assistance, Bray said. Shuttle stops will be marked with signs and/or canopies.
Drivers not attending commencement are asked to use U.S. 190 (Thomas Street and Morris Street) or Natalbany Road (Hwy. 1064) to avoid University Avenue traffic.
Southeastern students wishing to return rental textbooks that day should wait until after 2 p.m. to do so.