Compensation Study RFP

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. 

4-to-3 Lane Conversions

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.

 

How do YOU go to work?

Annette Dickerson arrives at work on Bike to Work Day

Annette Dickerson arrives at work on Bike to Work Day

How do YOU go to work? Take the survey! (and enter to win one of ten $5 Starbucks gift cards)

Imagine if you didn’t have to sit in traffic on your way home, staring at the exhaust fumes of the car in front of you.

Imagine starting and ending your day with a leisurely 20-minute bicycle ride, waving at your neighbors as you pedal past.

Imagine coasting right up to the front door of your workplace, instead of circling the lot looking for the best parking spot.

Imagine all the money you save on gas and car repairs when you leave the car at home.

Imagine the look on your doctor’s face at your low heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Imagine breathing cleaner air because you and your co-workers, and hundreds of others like you, bicycle to work.

Bicycling to work can be good for you, good for your workplace, and good for your community. Employees don’t have to bike far, or bike every day, to experience the benefits of bicycling. Whether you want to bike or not, we’d like to know more about how you or your employees get to work. Take the Bicycle to Work Survey and enter to win a Starbucks coffee!

Employees who bicycle to work:

  • Are healthier and happier
  • Save money on transportation
  • Enjoy the ride

Employers benefit when employees bicycle to work:

  • Fewer absentee days
  • Reduced parking costs
  • Healthier, happier, and more productive employees
  • Employee retention and recruitment
  • Showcase sustainability

However, employees face many obstacles to bicycling to work:

  • No bicycle parking at work
  • No place to clean up after bicycling
  • Dangerous roads
  • Managers and co-workers hostile to bicycling
  • Live too far to bicycle

We’re studying how employers in our area can facilitate bicycling to work. If you are an employer or an employee in the Roanoke Valley, please complete this survey and enter to win one of ten $5 Starbucks gift cards. Please encourage your employees, co-workers, and employer to complete the survey too!

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

municipal-representatives-of-rvba-board

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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How MY Bicycle Saves YOUR Life

Despite the title, this article isn’t about bicycle crashes. It’s about all kinds of traffic crashes. Auto vs. auto, auto vs. bike, and auto vs. person.

Traffic crashes are deadly, destructive, and common. They claim lives and inflict serious injuries that change lives forever. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among children up to age 19.

We can prevent that. We can prevent traffic crashes and we can alleviate the most destructive kinds of traffic crashes.

Let me reiterate that. We can save 700 lives per year in Virginia. We can prevent thousands of serious, life-changing injuries every year.

How can we do that? Before I explain what my bicycle has to do with it, let’s first consider an important element of crashes: speed.

The faster a car is moving, the more severe the crash. That’s not just common sense. It’s backed up by physics and observational studies. A difference of just 5 or 10 miles per hour can be the difference between life and death, between a close call and a lifelong disability.

The link between speed and crash severity is particularly clear when considering the auto vs. person crash.

  • When a car traveling 20 mph strikes a person, 90% of the time that person will survive.
  • Increase the speed to 30 mph, and only half the time will the person survive.
  • When hit at 40 mph, 90% of the time the person will die.
source: BikePGH

source: BikePGH

In Roanoke, 500 of the 600 miles of City streets have a 25 mph speed limit—but the typical speed is 33 mph. Just 7 mph over the speed limit can be the difference between walking away from a crash and paralyzed for life. It is literally the difference between life and death.

So how do we get people to slow down? I often hear, “Roanoke drivers are terrible,” or “People here just drive too fast.” (Every place believes their drivers are the worst!) We talk about traffic speeds as the result of driver decisions.

But many factors influence those decisions. A speed limit sign is just the beginning. We can use many tools to slow traffic speeds, depending on context: speed bumps, show-your-speed radar, enforcement, outreach campaigns, to name a few. New York, and other cities, found that bike lanes reduced injuries and fatalities for all users—not just bicyclists (for more data, see New York City’s Vision Zero report). Focusing on bicycle safety had the side effect of traffic calming.

When we make streets safe for my bicycle, the streets are safer for everyone—bicycling, walking, and driving.

Thank you Roanoke for new bike lanes, narrowing travel lanes, and other traffic calming efforts so we can ALL be safer traveling on streets.  Keep up the good work and motorists, keep an eye out for my bicycle and slow down!

USDA Rural Development program adopts new environmental review process

USDA_logoRVARC staff recently attended a training held by the USDA at the Greenfield Training and Education Center on new review processes for assessing the environmental impacts of USDA funded projects. This training followed adoption of a new set of environmental policies and procedures on the part of the USDA Rural Development Agency (the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and the Rural Housing Service) that went into effect on April 1st of this year. These regulations meet the requirements for the USDA to “assess and consider the impacts of proposed federal actions…to the human environment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and other applicable federal, state, and local environmental laws.” (RD Instruction 1970-B, Exhibit C)

The new rules can be found under code 7 CFR 1970, and replace previous regulations 7 CFR Part 1794 and 7 CFR Part 1940-G. The rules simplify the review process, bringing reviews for all services and projects under the same regulations. Recipients of assistance from the Rural Development Agency will find their project classified as following one of three review paths. Projects will require documentation in the form of Categorical Exclusions (CE), Environmental Assessments (EA) or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). An applicant to a Rural Development program is responsible for consulting with agency staff to determine which track they should follow early in the process. They are also responsible for contacting relevant state and Federal agencies as appropriate. Applicants should be aware that the USDA environmental review process does not replace other required review processes at the state or local level, and should contact the relevant officials accordingly.

The USDA Rural Development programs offer valuable opportunities in the form of grants and loans to localities, businesses, and individuals. More information about their programs can be found here. RVARC staff is happy to provide more information to the public about the new review process as requested.

 

 

 

Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Completes Network

Roanoke Valley Broadband AuthorityIn July, Roanoke County approved funding to build a 25-mile, $3.4 million expansion of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority’s (RVBA) fiber network. Once finished, the total network will cover 72 miles throughout the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the Counties of Botetourt and Roanoke. The Roanoke County expansion will run near 650 commercial properties.

Roanoke County leaders have said that the network’s current course misses several key commercial clusters in the county. The county’s design of the additional 25 miles of fiber hits areas such as Virginia 419 between Tanglewood Mall and Salem and the town of Vinton.

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Roanoke River Blueway Designated as a Virginia Treasure

Roanoke River Blueway Designated as a Virginia Treasure

VirginiaTreasures_FINALThe Roanoke River Blueway has been designated as a Natural, Cultural and Recreational Treasure as part of the Virginia Treasures program, an initiative by Governor McAuliffe to preserve, protect and highlight Virginia’s most important ecological, cultural, scenic and recreational assets as well as its special lands. A recreational treasure is a one that provides new public access to a natural, cultural or scenic outdoor recreation resource. These are projects that help the public by enhancing outdoor recreation and foster stewardship of natural and cultural resources.

Read more about the Roanoke River Blueway here…

Volunteers Needed for NBPD Survey

flyer pictureThe Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Commission is partnering with the City of Roanoke for the annual National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation week! Volunteer on Wednesday from 5-7pm or Saturday from 12-2pm to count the number of pedestrians and bicyclists at designated locations. For more information, contact Amanda McGee at amcgee@rvarc.org.