Author Archives: Tyler Godsey

Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Recognized with Governor’s Award, Grows Staff to accommodate increasing demand

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RVBA Board Members (left to right) Tom Gates, Gary Larrowe, Kevin Boggess. Chris Morrill; not pictured Mike McEvoy

Roanoke Va. – (Sept. 27, 2016) – On September 7, 2016, the City of Roanoke and the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority received the prestigious Governor’s Technology Award for Cross-Boundary Collaboration at a ceremony during the annual COVITS conference in Richmond, Virginia.

The Award recognizes local, state and educational public sector information technology (IT) projects that have improved government service delivery and efficiency as chosen by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth Nelson Moe.

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Roanoke River Blueway Wins 2016 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

roanokeriverblueway-logoThe Roanoke River Blueway has won the 2016 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Silver Award in the Virginia Outdoors Plan Implementation category. The 2016 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards were announced on April 7, 2016 at the 27th Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington.  The awards recognized the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in four categories: sustainability, environmental project, land conservation, and implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan.  They are given to businesses and industrial facilities, not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Roanoke River Blueway pblueway-award-photorovides cost-free opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, tubing, wading, wildlife viewing, and watershed education with convenient access to other outdoor and cultural amenities in Virginia’s Blue Ridge all year long. The 45-mile Blueway, which includes 15 public boating access points, aims to promote healthy living and economic sustainability through increased use and awareness. Access points are located in local parks allowing for shared parking. In addition, information is provided for using the Valley Metro and bicycle accommodations. Watershed management and stewardship through education are supported through a dedicated webpage to water quality. Another educational tool is the Roanoke River Blueway Interactive Map which provides a range of information to facilitate safe use and enjoyment of this regional resource. Funding for the Blueway was leveraged from a variety of sources including private donators, the Virginia Tourism Cooperation (VTC) Market Leverage Program, American Electric Power, and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

RVARC Executive Director, Wayne Strickland has been Elected to the National Association of Development Organizations Board of Directors

Wayne_nadoWashington, DC – Wayne Strickland, Executive Director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission in Roanoke, VA, was elected to the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) 2016 – 2018 Board of Directors on April 13, 2016.  Founded in 1967, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 540 regional development organizations.

NADO member organizations serve local governments and the public within their regions through various programs focused on diversifying local economies, assisting businesses, creating jobs, and providing community services.  The NADO Board of Directors oversees the association’s budget and operations and develops policy on issues affecting regional development organizations.

“We are honored to have Wayne serve on NADO’s Board of Directors.  Wayne brings a wealth of expertise, knowledge, and leadership on regional community and economic development issues to the national level,” stated Joe McKinney, NADO Executive Director.  “Most importantly, Wayne is focused on helping our nation’s local communities pursue comprehensive regional strategies for remaining economically competitive in today’s rapidly changing global environment.”

NADO’s Board of Directors includes member organizations that represent a broad section of the United States including the Central, Eastern, Midwestern, Southeastern, Southwestern, and Western regions.  The two-year term for Board members begins on May 1, 2016 and runs through April 30, 2018.

 

Strengthening our Livable Roanoke Valley with Transit

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Buses, transit, public transportation;
Connecting parts but not enough of our region.

Imagine the future where service abounds
My ride is coming, not a long wait.
See a friend, how have you been?
See another, a new connection,
Nice to meet you, let’s talk again.
Time on my hands to read, text, and relax.
Drop me off, no need to park.
A breath of fresh air,
A short walk,
A smile and hello,
A refreshing energy to my day.

The opportunity has been there for 2 ½ years to provide input;
Citizens young, citizens old, Citizens employed by transit,
Citizens who take transit a lot, some or not.
Thank you to more than 4,000 who have contributed.

Guided by stakeholders who value transit as a means to support:
Businesses, Neighborhoods, Economic growth, Opportunities,
Personal development, Health, Independence,
Clean air and water, Intentional land development.
A care for others,
and an option for oneself.

Transit stands instrumental to a livable future in the Roanoke Valley.
The time is now to invest in our future;
The time is now to grow strongly not stiflingly;
The time is now to be unlike any other place to live.
We are the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Review the Roanoke Valley Transit Vision Plan by Friday, May 27 (www.rvarc.org/transit).

Talk with staff about the draft at the Commission’s Annual Open House on May 9, 2016 or send your feedback to Cristina Finch at cfinch@rvarc.org.

Your input is important to the future of the Valley!

Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Completes Outside Construction

New High-Speed, Open-Access, Municipal Fiber Network now in final stages of preparation before first customer rollouts

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RVBA Chairman Kevin Boggess at Blue Ridge PBS

Roanoke, Va. (April 5, 2016) – The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority (RVBA) is pleased to announce that forty-seven-miles of new, high quality, fiber-optic broadband cable is now buried beneath the cities of Roanoke and Salem, VA.

RVBA vendor partners Thompson & Litton and USC (Utility Service Contractors) completed the Outdoor Plant construction on April 5, 2016 at the Valley View Point of Presence (POP) location. The completion of the new network’s “outside plant” marks a major milestone for the public-private partnership’s regional investment.

The project, which broke ground last summer, was designed to spur regional economic development by increasing access to extremely secure, high-speed, affordable, and un-throttled fiber-optic Internet service.

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Crews use microtrenching to install fiber

The new conduit network has been threaded with 144 threads of fiber optic line, each thread capable of delivering secure, private, terabit-level upload and download connections for future RVBA customers.

It is anticipated that the new highly resilient, synchronous, and self-healing system will provide tremendous benefit to enterprise-level clients (corporate, government, and education) across the region. The new open-access network has also been designed to spur additional private sector telecommunications investment by lowering the barriers of entry required to deliver competitive services in the Roanoke Valley.

“Throughout the new networks’ physical build-out process, we worked hard to maximize the projects long-term value while minimizing any inconvenience for Roanoke Valley citizens and visitors. All in all, and thanks to the support of our team of experienced vendor partners, things went very smoothly.” Frank Smith, Executive Director of the RVBA, said. “We used a wide variety of cutting-edge techniques to both plan and build the physical network infrastructure and these efforts are sure to pay dividends over the long-haul. Now, with outside plant construction complete, our first customers are only weeks away from realizing the results of everyone’s hard work.”

The new network, built on defense-grade equipment, directly connects the Roanoke Valley to two international Internet switching stations. Now that construction of the outside plant is complete, local project teams will spend the next few weeks stress-testing the system and configuring the switching centers for an official service lighting event later this spring.

Prospective customers interested in learning more about the RVBA’s new service availability, packaged offerings, pricing, and adoption timelines should contact Frank Smith, Executive Director at (540) 904-1073 or, via email, at fsmith@highspeedroanoke.net. More information is also available online at www.highspeedroanoke.net

The next meeting of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority is open to the public and is scheduled for April 15, 2016 at 8:30 am in the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Region Commission Building (313 Luck Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24016).

History of the RVBA

In 2011, at the urging of several concerned citizens and local business owners, four regional municipalities (The City of Salem, The City of Roanoke, Roanoke County and The County of Botetourt) and several highly invested local business owners joined forces to conduct a study on fiber-optic Internet access across the region
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When it was discovered that the Roanoke Valley lagged behind the rest of the country with only 8% of the metro population having access to fiber networks (compared to the national average of 24%), a task force was formed to develop specific recommendations that would make the Roanoke Valley a better place to both live and work.

In January of 2014, the four municipalities officially took action on these recommendations by forming the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority (RVBA) to expand the regional broadband infrastructure and make it easier for both new and existing providers to deploy their technology and offer price-competitive services across the Roanoke Valley.

The RVBA was charged with a number of specific initiatives, including:
•Developing a master plan for construction and operation of a high-speed, redundant regional network “ring” to reach schools, industrial parks, large employers and other economic centers,
• Developing cooperative agreements for localities with technical specifications and commercial terms for operating the network and exchanging data across municipal boundaries
• Developing dig once requirements for construction projects, including the placement of open-access conduit for optical fiber cable
• Communicating broadband related activity to the public
Taken together, the RVBA was tasked with driving measurable improvements to fiber-optic Internet accessibility, affordability, reliability, and Internet speeds for the purposes of advancing the long-term economic prospects of the region.

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Related photo archive access and interview requests should be sent to:

Jennifer Eddy
Chief Strategist
540-878-9681 (C)
202-709-7509 (W)
202-706-7342 (F)

Eddy Communications Corp.
www.eddycommunications.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifereddy

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Roanoke Valley Transit Vision Plan Currently Under Development

IMG_2888Transit is an essential tool for helping the Roanoke Valley achieve its goals related to developing our economy and workforce, improving our personal health, and preserving our natural environment. The Roanoke Valley Transit Vision Plan is currently under development, with a draft expected to be available for public review in May and a final plan submitted this summer.

For more information about the Roanoke Valley Transit Vision Plan check out the project website at www.rvarc.org/transit or contact Cristina Finch, Manager of Transit Planning and Programming at cfinch@rvarc.org or (540) 343-4417.

RVARC Receives Transportation Planning Excellence Award from FHWA and FTA

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) jointly announced the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) as one of this year’s eight Transportation Planning Excellence Award (TPEA) recipients.

“Building a world-class transportation system doesn’t happen overnight, and never by accident,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These important awards recognize the critical role planning plays in meeting America’s future transportation challenges.”

The RVARC’s “Bus Stop Accessibility Study” was recognized as a national example of addressing the link between pedestrian and transit, and developing new ways to determine, evaluate and compare bus stop activity. It used survey data to identify the most active bus stops and those with the greatest number of mobility impaired riders. The study’s results led to more accessible bus stops with better overall system efficiency.

“Given the limited funds available for infrastructure improvements, data-driven tools like this one help to prioritize local transportation investments,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “Thanks to pioneering work like theirs, the transportation community is now able to specifically pinpoint the areas needing improvements, and why they are needed.”

Selected by an independent panel, the awards are a biennial recognition by the FHWA and FTA of outstanding transportation planning practices performed by planners and decision makers in communities across the country.

Project leader, Cristina Finch of the Regional Commission, states, “We are so grateful for this award; there is no higher honor than to be recognized as a national leader in planning.  This Study reflects new ways to use existing data to better understand and justify the improvements needed for people to access transit.  With so many bus stops in the transit network, this Study provides direction on where investments are most needed.”

This year, eight winners were selected of 35 TPEA submissions from around the nation. Criteria for selection included: community, public involvement and partnerships; context sensitive solutions; innovation and effectiveness; equity; implementation and strategy; multi-modalism; and potential for long-term benefits.

“It’s important to recognize the creative efforts of the nation’s transportation planners,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese W. McMillan. “The future of our infrastructure system begins with their vision. RVARC’s innovative evaluation process led to a major bus route adjustment and pedestrian enhancements to bus stops along a high-activity, low-income corridor.”

The Roanoke River Blueway is Under Development

blueway-photo6The Regional Commission is working with a stakeholder committee composed of local governments, non-profits, paddlers, fishermen, local outfitters and watershed groups to develop the Roanoke River Blueway, a 45-mile water trail on the upper Roanoke River.  A blueway (also known as a water trail, paddle trail, or float trail) is a navigable waterway with sufficient capacity (flow, depth, and width) for successful progress of canoes, kayaks and other non-motorized vessels, with sufficient access and amenities to facilitate other recreational uses of the waterway.  The Roanoke River Blueway flows through or borders the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, the Counties of Montgomery, Roanoke, Bedford, and Franklin, and the Town of Vinton, providing river access for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, tubing, wading, wildlife viewing, and other recreational opportunities. The Blueway also connects to numerous local parks; Roanoke River Greenway, Tinker Creek Greenway and Mill Mountain Greenway; Blue Ridge Parkway; Explore Park;  Smith Mountain Lake; and businesses proximate to the river.

The overall goal of the Roanoke River Blueway project is to facilitate and encourage recreational use of the Upper Roanoke River and tributaries by residents and visitors. Additionally, the project seeks to encourage watershed awareness and sustainable stewardship of the region’s water resources. To date, the Roanoke River Blueway stakeholder group has developed a website, interactive and printable maps, brochure, and other information to facilitate the safe and enjoyable use of the blueway including river access descriptions, hazards and portages, recommended minimum and maximum streamflow levels, contact information, and links to useful websites.

Moving forward, the Regional Commission, local governments, and the Roanoke River Blueway stakeholder group will work to improve and promote the blueway; seek grant funding and other financial support; work with local outfitters, businesses, and other entities to promote the blueway and increase river related recreation and tourism; and increase watershed awareness.

The Livable Roanoke Valley Summit- Unveiling our regional plan and our Community Champions

k_konrad_train station rkeROANOKE, VA (June, 23, 2013) –The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission will host a Livable Roanoke Valley Summit on June 25, 2014.  The media are invited to the half-day Summit where the final Livable Roanoke Valley Plan will be presented to the community.  The Summit will feature a keynote address by Bill Shelton, the Director of the VA Dept. of Housing & Community Development and community leaders that have agreed to champion initiatives in the areas economic development, workforce, health, and natural assets.  The Summit will be held on:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 – 7:30AM to 1:30PM

Salem Civic Center

1001 Roanoke Boulevard

Salem, VA 24153

The Partnership for a Livable Roanoke Valley (Livable Roanoke Valley) is an initiative of The Regional Commission, seven local governments, and more than 60 organizations in the Roanoke Valley. The initiative seeks to promote economic opportunity and a greater quality of life for all Roanoke Valley residents through the development of the Valley’s first regional plan for livability.

Livable Roanoke Valley has taken a straight-forward approach to understanding and addressing key issues affecting the region.  We engaged partners, organizations, and over 1,200 citizens to gain a strong understanding of our region’s values, vision, and priorities.  Based on these, we developed 11 strategic initiatives to achieve goals in the areas of economic development, workforce development, health, and natural assets.  These initiatives include efforts such as “investing in regional infrastructure”, “preparing students for high-demand fields”, “improving access to healthcare services”, and preserving scenic and rural land”. We have also concentrated on ways to improve opportunity and access for low-income and underserved communities within our region.

For more information on the Summit and the plan, click here