Nov. 21-Dec. 4, 2003
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New garage eases parking crunch
Students, staff and faculty benefit from 1,200-space Ivy/Emmet facility

By Dan Heuchert

Sometime shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, someone drove a car down the rock-wall-lined entrance to the new Ivy/Emmet Parking garage, passing over a living stream. As the car eased to the garage’s entrance, the “ZipTag” attached to the rear-view mirror sent a signal, and the black-and-yellow gate raised up. The driver then found parking nirvana: a choice of 1,200 empty spaces.

The garage was finally open for business.

The 600-foot-long, five-story structure is set on 4.5 acres in a natural, woodland landscape that resembles a park more than a city center for cars. The project’s $15.75 million budget included $1.5 million for site work. The main entranceway on Ivy Road is lined by a curving rock wall, and a stream — which construction workers report is already home to minnows and frogs — flows through stands of trees and what will be a native-grass and wildflower meadow.

The stream is part of a cutting-edge regional storm-water management system that also includes a detention basin to hold backed-up water during heavy downpours, then gradually release it as the rain slackens.
Scott Maulding, project superintendent for the garage’s chief contractor, Donley’s Inc. of Cleveland, and a veteran of 23 garage projects, ranks the facility among the top five that he has worked on, due to its design and setting.

The garage’s location, design and impact on local traffic patterns were the objects of great concern from nearby city residents. In the end, the site’s neighbors served on a committee with University and Charlottesville representatives to formally offer their input. The result of the process was an improved design, said Leonard W. Sandridge, U.Va.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“Many people worked relentlessly to design and construct a garage that is attractive, safe and sensitive to the concerns of our neighbors,” he said. “We believe that we have achieved that objective.”

The garage, which took 14 months to build, replaces surface parking lost to the John Paul Jones Arena project, and will provide parking for football and basketball games and other major University events. At all other times, around-the-clock access will be by permit only.

As of Nov. 11, more than 800 Zip Tags had been issued to blue, S, S2 and S6 permit-holders, who include U.Va. faculty, staff and students.
With the opening, University Transit Service altered its Blue, Green and Central Grounds Shuttle routes to provide regular service to Central Grounds and the Health System. A permanent shelter just outside the building provides cover for commuters as they await a ride.

The garage’s opening triggered the closing of the 300 remaining spaces in the North Massie Road lot to facilitate arena construction.

Initially, the traffic signals at the Ivy Road garage entrance and the
Emmet-Ivy-University and Ivy-Copeley-Alderman intersections will be hand-calibrated to improve traffic flow. By Nov. 28, University and city officials hope to have signals at nine nearby intersections synchronized, and the city has plans to synchronize signals citywide by spring. The University contributed approximately $40,000 toward that $250,000 effort.

Maulding, the project manager, lauded the city’s efficiency in responding to inquiries and called the cooperation between the city and University “excellent. Not pretty good — it’s been excellent.”

The garage offers panoramic views, particularly from its upper levels, and from three glass elevators and three glass-enclosed stairwells. In response to neighbors’ concerns, the interior lighting is specially designed to minimize spillover into adjacent neighborhoods at night.

Six “blue-light” emergency phones on each level connect directly to the University Police, who can pinpoint a caller’s location. There are 25 handicapped-access parking spaces.



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