Monster opens: Game-dayers can park in a park

The new traffic light on Ivy Road is blinking, and the "monster" is open.

UVA's new parking deck– which some angry neighbors called a "1,200-car monster"– was set to open Wednesday, November 12. But it turns out to be less a monster than a park.

The day before the opening, landscapers were putting the finishing touches on the sylvan 4.5-acre setting. Because the mammoth structure required rerouting a little tributary that feeds into Meadow Creek, architects– armed with $1.5 million of the total $15.75 million budget– seized the opportunity to lush up the landscaping with a curving rock wall and a stone-faced bridge over the babbling brook.

Next to the waterway, a yet-to-be-planted grassy depression will serve as a storm-water retention pond, designed to fill after heavy rains.

Like some so-called "smart" highways, the garage offers its regulars "Zip Tags," tiny transponders that automatically open the garage gates. One ungated feature is the beefy two-lane road through the property that gives anyone traveling south on Emmet a chance to cut through to Ivy Road.

Looking from atop the parking deck to the road below, Rebecca White, UVA's parking and transportation director, promises, "There's no strategy to eliminate that cut-through." That should gratify anyone headed west on Ivy Road who wants to avoid the oft-clogged Ivy-Emmet intersection.

In late March, to placate the angry neighbors, UVA agreed to pay $1.2 million for nearby traffic improvements including a tiny median to deflect traffic from Rothery Road, as well as a new traffic signal and a right-turn-only lane onto Ivy Road.

UVA also plans to foot the bill for coordinating nine nearby traffic signals, an effort slated for completion by November 28, says UVA news officer Dan Heuchert.

The garage opening means the rerouting of three UVA bus lines through the property, which includes a rain-proof shelter for commuters.

While the main users of the garage will be monthly U-Hall-area parkers displaced by arena construction, the garage will open its gates for game-dayers– $10 for football, $5 for basketball.

Someday, UVA may replace its nearby Cavalier Inn (as well as a brick house) for dormitories fronting Ivy Road. "The last I heard from the housing people," says Heuchert, "they were talking about 10 to 15 years from now."

Spaces will go for $10 for football games, $5 for basketball.


UVA project manager David Sweet, at left, says wildflowers and a variety of grasses will fill the meadow below.