Saturday, February 24, 2024

Brace yourself: Here’s how to survive traffic during graduation weekend

Kaplan Arena (Courtesy W&M)

As high school seniors don their caps and gowns next weekend, their families will be navigating the roads around Kaplan Arena to find parking.

Each year, a team from William & Mary’s Police Department plans for the thousands of visitors to come watch their students walk across the stage. But this year poses an even greater challenge with the construction surrounding the building.

“We realize with the construction going on, it makes it a little harder to get to graduation,” said Lt. James Baez-An of WMPD. “We’re going to do the best we can but we’re hoping people will be patient with us.”

Construction on the first portion of the West Utility Plant project began earlier this summer and on Monday, the college will move into the second phase on Monday which will impact traffic surrounding graduation ceremonies.

Related story: Significant changes for vehicles and pedestrians coming to William & Mary this summer

During that time there will be restrictions on the following roadways:

  • Beginning Monday morning the DuPont Bridge will close to all traffic. Drivers entering from Landrum Drive will need to turn around at Swem and head back to Jamestown Road.
  • Phase IIa is scheduled to last four days to allow for crane operations and installation of a large underground manhole box.
  • For Phase IIa Ukrop Way will initially be closed at the Wake Triangle above the DuPont Bridge. Barricades will be in place.
  • Access to parking along Wake Drive and to the Keck Lab will remain open.
  • Parking in the immediate triangle at Wake Drive will be closed, the inbound lane will be cleared and set for two-way traffic.
  • The Randolph Complex and the DuPont Hall fire lanes will be offline during the crane operations.
  • Once Phase IIa is complete the barricades will be reset and only the bridge will remain closed through the June 24.

For those attending high school graduations, drivers must enter the campus from Monticello Avenue to reach the Kaplan Arena. But for drivers just passing through the area, Baez-An recommends avoiding Richmond Road near the arena as well as Compton Drive and the Dupont Bridge.

Baez-An said if people have to drive in the area to take Lafayette or Boundary Street or Jamestown Road.

“Ultimately if they don’t have to be in the area, I recommend avoiding it,” he said.

The heaviest congestion times will be before and after each graduation ceremony. On Friday, four high schools will be holding ceremonies at the Kaplan Arena at the following times:

  • Grafton High School, 9 a.m.
  • Bruton High School, noon
  • Tabb High School, 3:30 p.m.
  • York High School, 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Baez-An said the traffic should be slightly lighter because WJCC will only have three schools graduating that day. WJCC graduations will be at the following times:

  • Lafayette High School, 9 a.m.
  • Warhill High School, 1 p.m.
  • Jamestown High School, 5 p.m.

Baez-An said while there is usually a lot of congestion, in the 11 years he has worked the graduation he has never seen a traffic crash caused by it.

For those with mobility-impaired guests, cars can use Brooks Street behind Kaplan Arena. Baez-An said if the spaces fill up, then officers will be directing guests to drop off behind the arena where there is a ramp.

To view a full map for parking and traffic on graduation, click here.

To learn more about graduation traffic and parking, visit the York County School District or WJCC online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

Related Articles