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).

What do regional long-range plans and business books have in common?

Bike and Pedestrian Lanes Mulhouse #3

It can be difficult to craft a long-range transportation plan.  As you can imagine, much of the feedback we get from citizens and stakeholders involves day-to-day questions such as; “Who will pay for all of this?”  This natural question helps to illustrate the basic challenge that we have as long-range planners; “How do we develop and communicate a long-term vision, when many people naturally think in terms of day-to-day decisions?”

The ultimate goal is to craft a long-term leadership vision that can be implemented through prudent and strategic day-to-day decisions.  It is the old “Eat the elephant one bite at a time!” proverb.  However, we live in a world of complex social and economic interactions that defy “one size fits all” approaches.  One way to think through this tension between long-term vision and day-to-day decisions is to use economic frameworks.  I do a lot of personal study and reading in economics.  It is a deep interest of mine, and I think it helps inform our work as planners.  I especially think that Behavioral Economics  will prove to be very informative to planners in the coming years.

That said, many people think of economics in terms of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand  . Although this is a useful metaphor for many basic day-to-day market interactions, there are times when it doesn’t necessarily hold.  For instance, imagine that you are at a football game and everyone is comfortably seated and can see the game.  Then a few people stand up to get a better view, then more and soon the whole stadium is standing.  The end result is that everyone pretty much has the same view as before; however, they are less comfortable.  If an announcer communicated the “vision” to request everyone to please sit down over the loudspeaker, or if stadium rules didn’t permit standing during the game then the cycle could be broken.

Long-range plans are similar in this regard.  In essence they are just trying to point out that everyone is standing, when they could be better off being comfortably seated and watching the game.  Popular leadership and business books espouse this idea when it comes to individual career development and organizational development.  In essence they tell readers to craft a personal vision (or organizational vision for leadership books) and then act on that vision through day-to-day workplace decisions.  This advice is well received by the majority of professionals in the workforce as evidenced by how big the business, management and leadership category of books is in bookstores or on Amazon.  All we are saying is to think of regional long-range transportation plans as crafting a vision for the community and then encouraging leaders to act on that vision through day-to-day decisions.  Most of us already accept this advice in our professional lives via business books.  Why not accept the same approach for the community through long-range plans?

 

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

ribbon cutting_2

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.

microtrenching

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
.
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.

###

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

Tea Sets Wholesale Tea Sets Amber Jewelry

Provide Input to the Transit Vision Plan Through an Online Meeting

The Roanoke Valley is not like it was 25 years ago, nor will it be like it is today in 25 years.  In order to better meet the needs of citizens today and in the future, a Transit Vision Plan for the Roanoke Valley is under development.  Initial surveys and data analysis have been completed and results are available in the Technical Report to the Transit Vision Plan.

On November 5th, two public workshops were held to gather public input and preferences on the current and future state and use of transit in the Roanoke Valley.  Participants were able to draw preferences for transit on maps, place dots indicating preferences on boards, and complete comment forms as part of the meeting.  Following the two meetings, held at the Campbell Court Transportation Center and the Brambleton Center,

TVP Pub Mtg.--110515For those unable to attend the Public Open House Workshops on November 5, please click here to participate in the online public meeting.  The survey asks for the same input found on the maps and boards at the Open House meetings.

The survey will remain active until Friday, December 11th, at which point all responses received will be analyzed and incorporated into the final Plan.

For more information on the Transit Vision Plan, please visit the page here.

FY 2015 CoC Program Competition Now Open

The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Continuum of Care Program Competition has been posted to the FY 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Competition: Funding Availability page on the HUD Exchange. The FY 2015 CoC Consolidated Application and Project Applications are now available in e-snaps.

Submission Deadline: Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:59:59 PM EST

  • The FY 2015 CoC Program Competition is administered under the CoC Program interim rule (24 CFR part 578) and covers the application and award process for the FY 2015 CoC Program funds.
  • All applicants should carefully and thoroughly read the following:
  • FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA – prior to beginning the application process
  • FY 2015 General Section NOFA
  • Project Application Detailed Instructions and Instructional Guides
  • CoC Application Detailed Instructions and Instructional Guide
  • CoC Priority Listing Detailed Instructions and Instructional Guide
  • FAQs
  • As stated in Section II.B.4.of the FY 2015 CoC Program NOFA – Any changes to the FY 2015 Grant Inventory Worksheet (GIW) after the FY 2015 CoC Program Registration process must be approved by the local HUD CPD Field Office, in consultation with HUD Headquarters, within the 10-day grace period after the publication of the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA. The due date of final HUD-approval for changes to the FY 2015 GIW is September 28, 2015 by 5:00 PM local time.
  • HUD will post the FY 2015 CoC Program Amounts Available for Funding to the HUD Exchange within 10 days after the deadline for the grace period for changes. As stated in the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA, HUD will not consider any additional changes to the GIWs or Annual Renewal Demand (ARD) after the 10-day grace period.
  • The e-snaps system is not compatible with Chrome and newer versions of Firefox. Users should use Internet Explorer 10 or 11 (in compatibility mode) or older versions of Internet Explorer or Firefox which are available from Microsoft and Mozilla. If you need assistance in accessing e-snaps contact the HUD Exchange e-snaps Ask A Question (AAQ).

Electronic Application in e-snaps
The www.grants.gov application is not applicable to the CoC Program. The FY 2015 CoC Consolidated Application (CoC Application and CoC Priority Listing) and the Project Applications are only available via the SNAPS online grants management system, e-snaps. Only those Collaborative Applicants with a HUD-approved FY 2015 CoC Registration will have access to the FY 2015 CoC Consolidated Application. The application submission deadline is Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:59:59 PM EST.

Listserv Communications
All information related to the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition is communicated via the HUD Exchange Mailing List. Join the mailing list to receive important updates and reminders. HUD will communicate via listserv messages:

  • Due date reminders – it is the sole responsibility of Collaborative Applicants and their project applicants to submit the CoC Application and CoC Priority Listing containing all project applications by the due date and time.
  • Availability of webcasts.
  • Important updates or additional information – the additional information will not change the selection criteria or selection process included in the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA, but may include items such as updates on the status of e-snaps and reminders of impending deadlines.

If you are aware or suspect that the Collaborative Applicant, CoC members, or interested stakeholders are not currently receiving these listserv messages, please forward the following link, https://www.hudexchange.info/mailinglist, to them to register for the listserv messages as this is the only form of communication used by HUD to the public.

Resources
FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA Broadcast – This pre-recorded broadcast highlights key changes in the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA requirements. This broadcast is also available on the HUDchannel on YouTube. The due date of final HUD-approval for changes to the FY 2015 GIW is September 28, 2015 by 5:00 PM local time.

Application Resources on HUD Exchange
The following Consolidated Application and Project Application resources associated with the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition are, or will be, available on the CoC Program Competition: e-snaps Resources page on the HUD Exchange website:

  • Project Application Detailed Instructions:
  • New Project Application – coming soon
  • Renewal Project Application – coming soon
  • CoC Planning Project Application
  • UFA Costs Project Application
  • Project Application Instructional Guides:
  • New Project Applications
  • Renewal Project Applications
  • Performance Measures
  • Budgets – coming soon
  • CoC Planning Project Applications
  • UFA Costs Project Applications
  • Appeal Project Applications
  • CoC Application:
  • Detailed Instructions – coming soon
  • Instructional Guide
  • CoC Priority Listing:
  • Detailed Instructions
  • Instructional Guide

Questions
If you have questions pertaining to e-snaps technical issues, please submit your questions to the e-snaps Ask A Question (AAQ) portal on the HUD Exchange website. To submit a question to the e-snaps AAQ portal, select “e-snaps” from the “My question is related to” drop down list on Step 2 of the question submission process.

If you have questions related to the CoC Program interim rule or a policy related question, please submit your questions to the CoC Program Ask A Question (AAQ) portal. To submit a question to the CoC Program AAQ portal, select “CoC Program” from the “My question is related to” drop down list on Step 2 of the question submission process.

The AAQ accepts question submissions 24/7. However, responses are usually provided between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except for weekends and federal holidays. Additionally, per the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition NOFA, starting 2 days prior to the application deadline for FY 2015 funds, the AAQ will respond only to emergency technical support questions up to the deadline of Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:59:59 PM EST.

Visit the HUD Exchange at https://www.hudexchange.info

Promoting a Stronger Regional Economy Through Multimodal Districts and Centers

On January 22nd, the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) Policy Board approved the designation of Multimodal Centers and Districts through a draft map.  This concept originates from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s Multimodal System Design Guidelines which encourages the planning and implementation of an integrated transportation system including automobiles, public transit, bicycles, and walking.  As recommended in the Guidelines, TPO staff have engaged local government staff to develop multimodal centers and districts, which can be generally described as follows:

Chapter 5 - City Market CaptionMM Corridors MapMultimodal District:  A portion of a city or region with land use characteristics that support multimodal travel, such as higher densities and mixed uses, and where it is relatively easy to make trips without needing a car as gauged by the number of bus routes available, and safe walking or biking paths – either currently or proposed in the future.

Multimodal Center:  Compared to a multimodal district, a multimodal center is a smaller area of even higher multimodal connectivity and more intense activity, roughly equivalent to a 10-minute walk or a one-mile area.

The combination of population and employment density per acre is described in the Multimodal Design Guidelines as activity density.  Activity density can be used to identify multimodal centers and distinguish between land use intensities (urban to rural).

The Roanoke region’s economy is greatly supported by the economic activity that occurs in multimodal centers and districts.  Strengthening these areas, and connecting them with good transportation options bolsters the economy, allows for growth and the use of land more wisely, and creates numerous opportunities to move people and goods more efficiently.

By pursuing transportation projects that aim to better connect regional multimodal centers and districts, as a planning tool, the multimodal centers and districts will continue to be useful in local and regional land use and transportation planning.  The RVTPO has employed the use of the Multimodal Centers and Districts in its recently adopted Regional Pedestrian Vision Plan and will be incorporated in the upcoming Constrained Long-Range Multimodal Transportation Plan.