Dear Ace: What’s happening on the Bypass near the 250 exit? I see lots of construction and dirt movers. McMansions? Rest stop? —Rhodes Scholar
Rhodes: With all the earth-moving going on around town (or earth scorching, as the case may be—the first time Ace drove by the Hollymead Town Center site he thought a nuclear bomb had gone off!), it’s no wonder you can’t keep track of all the projects. Not to worry. Ace has the dirt on the dirt movers.
With a little digging (ha!) this intrepid reporter found out that it’s all part of the new $128 million John Paul Jones Arena project and the $47 million Arts Center project. To relieve the traffic congestion that would be sure to hamper Emmet Street after basketball games and other events at the new venues, a new half-mile road is being built off 250 East that will wind around the Darden School, the North Grounds Recreation Center, and connect on to Massie Road. Dubbed the North Grounds Connector, the new road, according to the UVA Office of the Architect’s website, will “intersect with the 250 Bypass by means of an ‘at-grade’ intersection with entry and exit from eastbound lanes only.”
But Ace, you ask, “What if people don’t use the new road? Won’t that cause congestion on Emmet Street?” Not to worry. During arena events the east end of Massie Road will be blocked off so that cars leaving the event can’t even access Emmet Street.
The $4 million price tag on the road link is included in the $128 million JP Jones Arena project, and the road should be completed along with the arena next May. And here’s an Ace traffic alert for you, Rhodes: Now that graduation is over at UVA (goodbye for a while, Sunday-morning Corner vomit!), Massie Road is closed at the intersection where it meets the North Grounds Connector. It will reopen in August.
It’s all part of the Master Plan, Rhodes. Not Ace’s Master Plan—that he’ll never reveal. At least not without drinks and dinner first. No, the North Ground Connector is part of The University’s Master Plan, the part about serving the larger community. As UVA sees it, developing safe, attractive, traffic-relieving entrances to The University is something old TJ himself would have wanted.