North Grounds Connector to Open Friday (Jan. 13), Five Months Early

January 12, 2006

January 12, 2006 — The North Grounds Connector, which links Massie Road to U.S. 250 and will be the main entrance for the John Paul Jones Arena as well as the University of Virginia’s North Grounds, will open on Jan. 13, five months ahead of schedule.

“We are pleased that we are ahead of schedule on this part of the arena project,” said Leonard W. Sandridge Jr., the University’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The $129.8 million multipurpose John Paul Jones Arena is scheduled to open in June. It will house the men’s and women’s basketball programs and will host about 60 other cultural and entertainment events a year.

“The early opening will give the public time to get used to the new road before we officially open the arena and begin to hold events later this year,” Sandridge said.

The $4.1 million connector will provide 24 hour-a-day access, seven days a week, to the North Grounds. Drivers will enter the half-mile-long road via a right-hand exit off the eastbound lane of the U.S. 250 bypass. During events, police will control the road using traffic cones, with two lanes coming into the arena before events and two lanes exiting the arena when events are over.

The University is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation and Charlottesville and Albemarle County police departments on a traffic plan for athletic and cultural events, as well as for day-to-day traffic.

“Beyond its role in traffic management for the John Paul Jones Arena, the connector adds an important new piece to the roadway system in the county,” Sandridge said. “This road is an example of the University working with the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County to enhance our local transportation system.”

Early, on-budget completion reflects cooperation among VDOT and design and construction teams to accomplish a rarity in the construction business, according to Richard B. Laurance, the project director.

“Extended work hours, an acceleration of the early part of the project and ideal weather conditions allowed the project to finish five months early,” Laurance said.

Road construction included blasting underground rock, closing Massie Road during the summer and closely monitoring traffic interference and neighborhood concerns.

There will be crossings for the Rivanna Trail Association and Darden and Law School students, a fully functioning traffic signal at the Massie Road intersection with the North Grounds Connector, and lighting and sidewalks in the main pedestrian areas. The connector will be fully landscaped to provide a natural looking entrance to the University.

The University will maintain the landscaping and snow removal, but major repairs will be performed by VDOT as part of its routine cycle.

The construction project is being managed by the University of Virginia Facilities Management, with Barton Malow Co. of Charlottesville as the construction manager.  The site construction contractor is Faulconer Construction Co. of Charlottesville.

For additional information, call University project director Richard B. Laurance at (434) 982-2859. More information about the arena project may be found at