High school graduations limit parking on Broad Street this week

Traffic jams and parking restrictions expected on Broad Street this week during high school graduation ceremonies at the Siegel Center.

Update #1 — June 5, 2013; 6:18 AM

VCU Police spokesman Michael Kelly responded to the claim that police didn’t give timely notice to local businesses that would be affected by the W. Broad Street street closures, which come during this year’s high school graduations at the Siegel Center (see below).

Here’s Kelly:

Our officers visited 54 businesses along Broad Street and Grace Street and dropped off flyers to let them know about high school graduations, including Velocity Comics on May 21st. We certainly made an effort to inform the local merchants but if Mr. Godfrey has feedback we would welcome that information so we can improve our communication in the future.

As to the specific question about why [the eastbound 800 block of W. Broad Street] was closed to parking, the extra lane is needed to get cars off the Broad Street deck since there is no Grace Street access via Shafer because of construction.

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Original — June 04, 2013

Beware of parking changes and traffic jams around the VCU campus this week as the Stuart C. Siegel Center will be hosting high school graduation ceremonies from June 4th to June 15th. VCU police, VCU Parking and Transportation, and the Richmond Police Department are working together to regulate traffic in the area during the week, and parking has been restricted on Broad street for the next 10 days.

Although high school graduations will mean an increase in the volume of traffic around the campus, VCU police have taken steps to make the week go smoothly for everyone said Michael Kelly, a spokesperson for the VCU police. The plan includes directing traffic by region of the graduation, steering visitors back toward the high school they originated from post-graduation.

VCU Police worked with the city of Richmond to adjust the traffic lights around the area to change in real time to avoid congestion and will also increase their staff in the area to help direct and assist visitors, Kelly said.

“We feel well prepared for the increased volume but we encourage folks to arrive in plenty of time, to be patient and courteous with each other, and to follow instructions from law enforcement,” Kelly said in an email.

In addition to the change in traffic in the area, parking is now restricted on the eastbound side of the 1100 block of Broad Street, the westbound side of the 1200 block of Broad Street, and the eastbound side of the 1200 block of Marshall Street from today until June 15th, the last day of the over two dozen area graduations.

Although the limitations in parking around the Siegel Center may help control congestion, some local businesses are concerned as to how the restrictions will affect their customers.

Velocity Comics store owner Patrick Godfrey said his business is going to take a hit because of the no-parking rule directly in front of his store. Godfrey said he was given zero notice that the streets in front of his business would be closed to parking for the next eleven days, a problem that he said signals a major lack of communication by officials.

“I don’t like to give people a reason not to come here…It’s not just parking on Broad Street, it’s that they did this when there’s nowhere to park on Grace Street right parallel to us; we can’t park because of all the construction going on,” Godfrey said. “They’re making it really difficult.”

In previous years, graduations at the Siegel center would span at least two weeks, but this year 25 schools will graduate within only 11 days. Although parking on the opposite side of the street remains open, Godfrey said he doesn’t understand why the eastbound side of the street was targeted.

Velocity Comics already sees a drop in activity in the store during the summer months, and the local graduations are just another storm they’ll have to weather. “Fifty weeks out of the year I absolutely love my location,” Godfrey said. “This is like the tax that we have to pay for being where all of the students are.”

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(Doors open one hour prior to start for all ceremonies)

Tuesday, June 4th

  • 3:00 PM • St. Gertrude High School

Thursday, June 6th

  • 10:00 AM • Cosby High School
  • 2:30 PM • Monacan High School
  • 7:00 PM • Clover Hill High School

Friday, June 7th

  • 10:00 AM • Thomas Dale High School
  • 2:30 PM • James River High School
  • 7 PM • Midlothian High School

Saturday, June 8th

  • 10:00 AM • Manchester High School
  • 2:00 PM • Matoaca High School

Monday, June 10th

  • 10:00 AM • Meadowbrook High School
  • 2:30 PM • Community High School
  • 7:00 PM • L.C. Bird High School

Tuesday, June 11th

  • 11:00 AM • Highland Springs High School
  • 3:00 PM • Varina High School
  • 7:00 PM • Mills E. Godwin High School

Wednesday, June 12th

  • 11:00 AM • Hermitage High School
  • 3:00 PM • J.R. Tucker High School
  • 7:00 PM • Deep Run High School

Thursday, June 13th

  • 11:00 AM • Henrico High School
  • 3:00 PM • Douglas S. Freeman High School
  • 7:00 PM • Glen Allen High School

Friday, June 14th

  • 1:00 PM • ECPI
  • 7:00 PM • New Kent High School

Saturday, June 15th

  • 8:30 AM • Lee Davis High School
  • 12:00 PM • Hanover High School
  • 3:30 PM • Patrick Henry High School
  • 7:00 PM • Atlee High School

Photo by: Jeff Auth

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