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Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage Officially Opens Tomorrow
Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage
Photos by Andrew Shurtleff
Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage

November 11, 2003 -- The long-anticipated opening of the 1,200-space Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage will take place Nov. 12 at 5:30 a.m.

The long, low-slung garage, 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 budget included $1.5 million for site work, including extensive landscaping. 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 between the garage and Ivy Road. 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 manager 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.”

Emmet/Ivy Parking GarageThe $15.75 million project took just 14 months to complete. The five-level garage replaces surface parking lost to the John Paul Jones Arena project on Massie Road, 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 Monday, more than 780 “Zip Tags” — rearview mirror-mounted transponders that will raise the garage’s gates — had been issued to permit-holders, who include U.Va. faculty, staff and students.

Beginning Wednesday, University Transit Service will provide regular bus transportation to Central Grounds and the Health System area via the Blue and Green routes and the Central Grounds Shuttle. A permanent shelter, located immediately outside the building, provides cover for commuters as they await buses.

The garage’s opening will also trigger the closing of the remaining spaces in the North Massie Road lot, effective Nov. 15, to facilitate arena construction.
The garage’s main entrance is off of Ivy Road via a traffic signal-controlled intersection. Motorists may also enter from and exit onto Emmet Street, although those exiting the facility will not be permitted to turn left onto Emmet.

Initially, the traffic signals at the Ivy Road garage entrance; the intersection of Emmet Street, Ivy Road and University Avenue; and the intersection of Ivy and Copeley and Alderman roads will be hand-calibrated to improve traffic flow. By Nov. 28, University and city officials hope to have signals at nine nearby intersections computer synchronized, and the city of Charlottesville has plans to synchronize signals citywide by spring. The University contributed approximately $40,000 toward the $250,000 cost of a software package to accomplish that feat.

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. And it doesn’t always happen that way. You just don’t run into that.”

The structure has a more open, airy feel than most parking facilities, with lower walls on each level letting in more natural light and affording panoramic views, particularly from the facility’s upper floors. There are also 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 each caller’s exact location. There are 23 handicapped-access parking spaces on the bottom floor and two more just outside the garage. The maximum clearance for vehicles heading to the upper floors is posted at 7 feet, 2 inches.

Much of the structure was built of pre-cast concrete — 1,040 pieces fashioned in Petersburg, then hauled in 640 truckloads to the site, where they were assembled in just four months. Using pre-cast concrete, rather then the more time-consuming cast-in-place method, saved six to eight months of construction time, Maulding said.

The University’s long-range master plan includes the possibility of erecting student housing between the garage and Ivy Road, but no firm plans are in place.

Football and basketball game operations

The parking facility will be available to ticket-holders on a first-come, first-served basis for all home football and men’s basketball games. Regular permit-holders will not be asked to relocate for those events.

The garage will open three hours before kickoff for football games, beginning with the Nov. 22 game against Georgia Tech, and non-permit-holders must leave by two hours after the game. Non-permit-holders will be charged $10 per game.

For basketball games, the garage will open 90 minutes prior to tip-off and will close to non-permit-holders one hour afterward. Non-permit-holders will be charged a $5 fee per game.

After both football and basketball games, exiting traffic will be routed west on Ivy Road. Cones will prohibit a left turn on Cameron Road.

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