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)
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Eddy Communications Corp.
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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.

Transit Vision Plan Public Workshops- January 21, 2016 Sessions

IMG_2888The RVTPO is currently working on a long-term Transit Vision Plan that will help shape future investments and planning for the Roanoke Valley’s transit services in the urban portions of Bedford County, Botetourt County, Montgomery County, City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, City of Salem, and the Town of Vinton.

In November, members of our regional community attended our first Transit Vision Plan Workshops, where we focused on identifying critical transit connections and citizen’s general service preferences.

Building on the November sessions, the next phase will begin Thursday, January 21 and will focus on obtaining public input on draft short, medium and long term recommendations for regional transit. There are 2 locations. The open house style workshops will have short formal presentations at 12:30pm and 1:30pm (Campbell Court) and at 5:15pm and 6:15pm (Vinton Library). Refreshments will be provided.

The workshops will be offered at two locations in the Roanoke Valley.

CHOOSE 1 OR BOTH MEETINGS
Both locations are wheelchair accessible.
Thursday, Jan. 21, Noon–2pm @ Campbell Court (2nd floor) (Directions)
Thursday, Jan. 21, 5pm-7pm @ the Vinton Library (Directions)

If you are unable to attend, please see meeting materials and provide comments via: www.rvarc.org/transit

Media inquiries contact: Cristina Finch cfinch@rvarc.org | (540) 343-4417

Video courtesy of Dale Saylor on Vimeo.

 

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.”

National Association of Development Districts features the Roanoke Valley

NADO recently featured the Livable Roanoke Valley project as part of the Sustainable Communities Learning Network. Since 2011, the NADO Research Foundation has participated in the Sustainable Communities Learning Network as one of the capacity building teams supporting communities and regions that received planning grants as part of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI). Through this program, 143 communities and regions across the country conducted three-year locally-driven planning and visioning efforts to address critical issues such as housing and transportation, economic and workforce development, natural resource protection, education, and other important areas. You can read more from NADO here. 

Wayne Strickland, Executive Director, Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission from NADO on Vimeo.