• Our Mission

    To be a regional leader in driving collaboration and strategy within our communities on issues that are critical to the economic growth, quality of life and sustainability of this region.

  • Planning

    The Regional Commission helps local governments address regionally significant issues with planning designed to enhance our region’s infrastructure, promote our region’s economic growth, and improve and sustain our region’s quality of life. 

  • Transportation

    The Regional Commission provides long-range transportation planning for the Roanoke Valley and rural localities within our region. Regionally coordinated approaches to planning and developing our region’s transportation infrastructure is central to the mobility of our citizens and supporting businesses that rely on logistics and supply chain management.

Serving its member governments for over 45 years

Compensation Study RFP

Jan 21, 2017

Notice of Request for Proposals for Compensation Study Consultant Services

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission is seeking proposals from qualified consulting firms and individuals to perform a regional compensation study.  Responses will be accepted until 4:00pm EST on Friday, February 17, 2017.  This public body does not discriminate as outlined by the Code of Virginia. Minority and women-owned businesses are encouraged to apply. For the complete RFP, click here. 

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A bicycle-eye view of Vinton

Dec 12, 2016

I bicycled around Vinton the other day with my camera running. This is my annotated ride compressed into 2 minutes:

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4-to-3 Lane Conversions

Nov 15, 2016

Cities around the nation are phasing out their four lane roads (2 lanes in each direction) because they are not safe or efficient. A popular method is the 4-to-3 lane conversion: Replacing two of the travel lanes, one in each direction, with a single center turn lane.

A 4-to-3 lane conversion in Reston, VA

A 4-to-3 lane conversion in Reston, VA

4-to-3 lane conversions reduce crashes and injuries[1], but the idea of removing lanes from a congested road alarms some people. Counter-intuitively, 4-to-3 lane conversion projects carry MORE traffic, despite ‘losing’ a lane[2].

The number of crashes decreases without impairing the number of vehicles after 4-to-3 lane conversions.

The number of crashes decreases without impairing the number of vehicles after 4-to-3 lane conversions.

 

The reason 4-to-3 lane conversions reduce crashes and carry more traffic is because of the center turn lane. Without the center turn lane, left-turners block a lane. Drivers are stuck behind the left-turner, waiting for traffic to clear in the right lane so they can go around. With the center turn lane, left turners are out of the way.

Many crashes involve attempts to merge from one lane to another. Reducing the number of vehicles that have to merge reduces the number of crashes. Providing a place for left-turners to wait that doesn’t block a lane allows traffic to flow more freely and efficiently. On a congested road, a 4-to-3 lane conversion actually improves traffic flow! On a lightly traveled road, the conversion has no effect (good or bad) on traffic flow, but does reduce crashes. The conversion paradoxically slows traffic even while carrying more vehicles—the traffic flow is steadier and more consistent, leading to faster travel times with slower speeds and less stop-and-go.

A bonus feature of the 4-to-3 lane conversion is that it frees up space for bicycle lanes, improving the safety of bicyclists as well as drivers. Nearly all 4-to-3 lane conversions include bicycle lanes. The 4-to-3 lane conversion is makes pedestrian crossing safer and easier as well—the middle lane can be used as a ‘refuge’ when crossing the street.

Of course, nothing is free, right? An amazing thing about the 4-to-3 lane conversion is that it is nearly free! Roads are expensive, but paint is cheap. Many 4-to-3 lane conversions happen when a road is due to be resurfaced. The stripes would be repainted anyway, so the conversion costs virtually nothing!

[1] The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) examined data from 4-to-3 lane conversions at 45 sites in Iowa, California, and Washington and found as much as a 47% reduction in crashes. The effect on safety was lower on roads that did not have as many crashes to start with. Furthermore, the FHWA found that average annual daily traffic increased after the 4-to-3 lane conversions—an indication that traffic flow improved.

[2] 4-to-3 lane conversions are not appropriate for roads that carry more than 20,000 vehicles per day. Examples of 4-lane roads in the Roanoke area that carry less than 20,000 vehicles per day include Williamson Rd in Roanoke, Main St in Salem, and By Pass Rd in Vinton.

 

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