May 9, 2007 — Creation of the University of Virginia’s South Lawn Project, the most significant undertaking on U.Va.’s Central Grounds in a century, takes a step closer to reality this summer as construction begins on the first phase of the new College of Arts & Sciences complex.
About two dozen people who live, work and/or own property near the project site gathered in the construction trailer for a briefing on the upcoming construction.
Mary V. Hughes, University landscape architect, provided attendees with a comprehensive overview, highlighting some of the project's distinctive features — chief of which is the 100-foot-wide terrace that will span Jefferson Park Avenue to connect the University to the community in an inviting new manner.
Noting that some residents had indicated that they envisioned the terrace would essentially create a tunnel-like structure, Hughes emphasized that the street’s existing grade will not change and showed a color sketch illustrating an open, day-lit area beneath the overhead crossing.
Hughes described this summer’s closing of Valley Road, a move the University is making in response to neighbors’ concerns about safety and cut-through traffic. Valley Road will end in a large cul-de-sac that will eventually be rimmed with trees and other plantings.
She also noted that two parking projects are planned this summer in anticipation of the B-1 lot closing. Work began this week on a parking lot adjacent to Bice House at 583 Brandon Avenue. The Bice lot will be expanded by 36 parking spaces. In addition, a temporary parking lot will be built soon at 434 Brandon that will hold approximately 30 cars.
Hughes also described changes in pedestrian circulation and bus stop locations associated with the project.
John Vanda, senior project manager with Barton Malow, the local firm managing South Lawn construction, outlined the upcoming work. In anticipation of the early site work, Vanda noted, a temporary access ramp has been erected from behind New Cabell Hall along JPA to a new temporary bus stop.
Vanda told the gathering that fencing will be erected south of New Cabell Hall to create a construction staging area, and a wooden fence around the current B-1 parking lot will be installed this summer. On-Grounds utility work will cross JPA this summer.
To prepare for the fencing and installation of storm pipes, workers will trim trees along the property line between the South Lawn and Oakhurst Circle. The work, which will include only trimming branches hanging over the property line, is necessary to promote safety by
eliminating the possibility of falling branches.
Construction of the Valley Road cul-de-sac will begin this summer after a pedestrian access path linking the street to Brandon Avenue is created. It is expected that Valley Road will be closed in mid-June. Vanda described in detail the traffic patterns that have been developed for construction vehicles that will be bringing material to and from the site.
Vanda noted that the terrace-crossing work is expected in summer 2008 or 2009. The entire
South Lawn will be completed by summer 2010.
Also during the meeting, the U.Va. lead managers for the project were introduced. They are James A. Kelley and J. Shannon Barras, senior project managers.
Most of the questions from attendees focused on issues of traffic patterns and parking along with stormwater management plans.
Ida Lee Wootten, director of community relations, noted that residents can subscribe to monthly e-mails providing regular updates on South Lawn construction — as well as other utility, landscaping and construction projects underway at the University — by contacting the U.Va.'s Community Relations Office at 924-1321 or by e-mail to email@example.com. She also noted that a report on the meeting, as well as the project’s construction phases, are listed under “Jefferson Park Avenue Neighborhood” at the Community Relations Web site.