N. Grounds Connector seen
as link in traffic plan
By Matt Kelly
$4 million road link between the U.S. 29-250 bypass and Massie
Road will help relieve congestion from city streets after basketball
games and other special events at the planned new arena, University
North Grounds Connector will feed into Massie Road between the
North Grounds Recreation Center and the Darden
School. The University has included the connector in its plan
for the $128 million arena project.
recent traffic study prepared for the University by Gladding Jackson
Kercher Anglin Lopez Rinehart Inc. projected that the connector
would help relieve pressure from Emmet Street and Ivy Road. During
special events, the connector would carry 40 to 50 percent of
the traffic, with the rest shunted out both ends of Copeley Road
to Ivy Road and Emmet Street, according to arena project director
Richard B. Laurence. The eastern end of Massie Road would be blocked
during events, so patrons will not be able to access Emmet Street
from there, he said.
currently designed, the North Grounds Connector will have two
wide lanes, which will be broken into three lanes for events
two in and one out before, then two out and one in afterward.
The 35 mph road will follow the contours of the terrain and will
provide two-lane access to the North Grounds. Initially, the University
will maintain the road, with eventual plans to turn it over to
design of the roads intersection with the bypass has not
yet been decided. There are four options, including a grade crossing
with lights and an overpass, but the Virginia Department of Transportation
is under a court order barring it from discussing a final design.
Southern Environmental Law Center has filed a lawsuit against
VDOT over the proposed U.S. 29 western bypass. The judge in the
case has enjoined the agency from discussing and planning any
aspect of the project, including where the Universitys road
University is continuing to design the road, though uncertain
about whether it will connect to the existing bypass or the proposed
We may have to connect to the 250 bypass as an interim measure,
University landscape architect Mary Hughes said.
design and construction will go on with or without VDOTs
input, Laurence said. We intend to go ahead with the half-mile
of it, but not the last 250 feet, he said. The sooner
we know, the better, but we can go up to the last year without
talking to them if there are no changes. But if they are going
to get fancy and want overpasses and things, then we need to know
on the connector, which is being paid for with private funds,
will start next spring, Laurence said. About 40,000 cubic yards
of fill excavated for arena construction will provide a base for
the connector, saving the University hundreds of thousands of
dollars, he said.
road is expected to be finished when the arena is, in 2006.