Nissan Pavilion to increase parking

Parking at Nissan Pavilion might take on a more contiguous and convenient form after a county decision rezoned 30 acres for additional parking spaces.

But traffic problems surrounding the concert arena will have to wait.

The Prince William County Supervisors approved a zoning ordinance that changed 86 acres of agricultural land to light industrial and transportation.

Thirty acres of trees and fields are part of Nissan Pavilion’s plan to expand its parking lots.

The new lots would replace 3,000 parking spaces at satellite parking lots, located on Limestone Road and in surrounding business parks. Patrons can walk from nearby satellite parking areas and buses transport concert goers from parking at Limestone Road, about a mile from Nissan Pavilion.

Brooke Kent, publicist for Nissan Pavilion, said the new parking would most likely maintain consistency with the rest of the parking, depending on the county’s approval of the site plan.

The supervisors’ July 22 zoning approval also allowed the creation of Bristow Industrial Park, adjacent to the Nissan Pavilion’s new parking area at Wellington Road and Piney Branch Lane.

The industrial park would be for mixed light industrial uses, according to the rezoning plan.

Kent said Nissan Pavilion’s plans include finishing the parking area by the 2004 concert season, almost a year before road improvements would alleviate a “substantial” area traffic snarl.

Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn III, R-Gainesville, said county- and state-funded road projects at Interstate 66 and U.S. 29 intended to ease rush hour congestion would have a positive impact on Nissan Pavilion traffic.

For a sold out show, up to 9,000 cars must access the Nissan Pavilion on Wellington Road, which has one way east and one way west.

Traffic has been known to back up for miles before and after concerts.

One parking attendant whose name was withheld said it can take as much as two hours before cars can get out of the Pavilion’s parking area after a large show.

Wilbourn said the Pavilion is a “great community participant” that hosts local high school graduations at no charge.

But when it arrived in 1994, the traffic plans “slipped under the radar screen” and plans to get event participants in and out weren’t thought out.

“Nissan at one time paid for the ramp off [Interstate] 66 out of their own pocket,” said Wilbourn. “They wanted their clientele to get out of there easily.”

Now the state and the county are going to continue to make it easier for concert goers and commuters to zip through an area known more for its rush hour snarls.

Wilbourn said the Virginia Department of Transportation will begin bids in January on a proposed east-west connector, a four-lane fly-over road between U.S. 29 and Wellington Road.

And an $86 million county bond issue approved in 2001 would pay for surrounding road expansions.

Wellington Road will be expanded from two to four lanes, from the East-West Connector to Balls Ford Road, according to Wilbourn. Concert goers should expect that improvement by late 2005, he said.

And eventually, Wellington Road would dead-end before it meets U.S. 29, Wilbourn added.

“Once we have the New Wellington Road and the East-West connector in place … it’s going to have a huge impact on getting the traffic in and out of there,” said Wilbourn, adding that it would be “a very positive impact.”

Peterson Company, a developer at Virginia Gateway Business Park, has promised to build New Wellington Road between the existing Wellington and Linton Hall Road, just north of the Nissan Pavilion.

New Wellington Road is expected to align with the East-West connector.

Wilbourn said he and Supervisor Ben Thompson, R-Brentsville, have been meeting with developers and road planners to alleviate traffic congestion among their districts.

“Probably on the next bond we would look at completing the four lanes” on Wellington Road to U.S. 28, said Wilbourn.

The accesses to I-66 and U.S. 28 and 29 are imperative to attracting new business and hopefully creating a reverse commute for workers, he said.