Introducing the “Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization” (RVTPO)

TPO Name Change Resolution 09-25-2014 – small (Resolution establishing that the RVAMPO should be commonly referred to as the RVTPO)

It has been observed that the term Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) does not directly communicate the transportation planning focus and role of the MPO to the public at large.  Therefore, the RVAMPO Policy Board decided that henceforth the RVAMPO should be commonly referred to as the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO).  The use of RVTPO more clearly communicates the purpose and role of the body.  The official name for contracts, agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) will remain the RVAMPO.  For day-to-day planning activities, plans and routine matters facing the public, we will henceforth refer to ourselves as the RVTPO.  Please bear with us as we make the transition over the next several months.  The Policy Board did not want us to go through undue extra expense in this transition.  So we will be gradually transitioning letterhead and other items as our stock is used up and replaced.

You can think of RVTPO as a friendly nickname that makes us more personable.  Instead of going by William we are now going by Bill by way of analogy.

3D Printing

Chapter 1.5 3D Printer - Public DomainThe goal of this post and of planning in general is to anticipate possible and plausible future conditions to better help leaders make informed decisions along the way.  According to wikipedia.org (accessed 09-23-2014)

“3D printing or additive manufacturing is any of various processes for making a three-dimensional object of almost any shape from a 3D model or other electronic data source primarily through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control.  A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.

The above image is of a 3D printer that prints using plastic polymers.  Advances are being made in the printing of metals and even food grade materials.  The advantage of 3D printers is that final printed object contains no scraps or waste.  The printer only uses the amount of material necessary for production.  This could have wide-ranging implications for the size and scale of manufacturing and how it fits in with urban form and transportation demand.  3D printing’s implications for long-range transportation planning and related decisions by leaders and elected officials revolve around it’s potential to affect both “economies of scale” and “economies of agglomeration.”

Economies of scale are savings that occur to an individual entity (i.e. factory) or process when there are high fixed costs and the price per item manufactured goes down as the volume goes up.  Essentially, each additional item manufactured helps repay the high fixed costs, so “the more the merrier!”  The classic example is a large factory.  Since traditional manufacturing processes can require large volumes to reach economies of scale, manufacturing is typically located away from residential, commercial and retail uses.  3D printing has the potential to alter the volume necessary to reach economies of scale.  3D Printing based manufacturing could potentially be small enough to co-exist with commercial, retail and in some cases residential land uses.

Economies of agglomeration are savings and benefits to a company or organization when it locates close to other businesses and organizations.  These savings are usually due to potential productivity gains, savings on input costs (i.e. labor), and knowledge spillovers from the concentration of professionals, entrepreneurs and other creative individuals within a given geographic area.  The potential for 3D printing to operate at a small scale may allow it to be located near complementary business and markets thus reducing transportation demand.

Since 3D Printing is in its infancy, the extent to which it alters typical economies of scale and economies of agglomeration of manufacturing and thus manufacturing derived transportation demand remains to be seen.  Therefore, as we develop the next long-range transportation plan we would like to ask for your feedback on several questions.  Please provide answers in the comment box below.

  • Will 3D Printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies dramatically reduce the size and scale needed to reach economies of scale?
  • Will small scale 3D printing based manufactures locate in urban and other mixed-use environments?
  • Will these impacts account for a significant portion of the manufacturing sector or just niche and custom portions?
  • What other questions did we miss/would you suggest?

New Long-Range Transportation Plan Builds On Livable Roanoke Valley Scenario Planning and Adds Marketing Style Segmentation

Although scenario planning is not a new concept, the upcoming Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan will use it in an innovative way.  As a way of definition, scenario planning is the framework of performing a future risk assessment and benefit analysis to determine potential strengths and weaknesses which affect our region.  This assists in current and long-range local/regional planning pursuits.

In 2014, the Steering Committee of the4-Scenarios Diagram
Livable Roanoke Valley Plan developed
four scenarios, which focus on preparedness and ability of the Valley to thrive and prosper.  The scenarios were used to determine a future vision for the Roanoke Valley, and became part of the Livable Roanoke Valley Plan.

As the MPO staff begins development of the 2040 Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan, we will be utilizing the four Livable Roanoke Valley scenarios:  Paradise Valley, Light at the End of the Valley, Happy-Go Lucky Valley and Unhappy Valley.  The four scenarios will play a critical role in making population and employment projections within Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs)–areas developed locally for calculating traffic related data.  Using 2040 population and employment estimates compiled for each of the 204 TAZs in the Roanoke Urbanized Area, staff has developed corresponding projections based on each future scenario.  These projections will lead to more precise analysis and policy recommendations, based on future outcomes; and staff will utilize the scenarios to plan with an eye towards preventing the worst possible regional future.

In addition to using scenario planning to anticipate population and employment changes in the TAZs, MPO staff utilize GIS software maker ESRI’s Tapestry Segmentation to incorporate an additional data layer.  Simply stated, Tapestry Segmentation is a method of surveying and analyzing large populations in order to quantify diversity, trends, lifestyles and life stages.  It takes into account population, household, migration, housing, economic, educational and income characteristics and produces a “fabric” of a particular geography.  By utilizing this approach, it is like what people in marketing use as a marketing framework strategy.

Tapestry Segmentation MapBased on the data collected for each geography, ESRI has 12 uniquely designated Lifemode Summary Groups, which take into account lifestyles and various stages of life (e.g. Upscale Avenues and American Quilt).  Within these Lifemode Groups are 65 segments, which reveal more specific characteristics.

In the months to come, as MPO staff analyzes future trends by projecting population and employment based on both the four scenarios and the Tapestry Segmentation Lifemode Groups, we hope to discover additional dynamics to allow us develop better transportation policies and recommendations.

Electric Vehicles – Which comes first the Chicken or the Egg?

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Public Parking - Nashville (1) - small Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Public Parking - Nashville (2) - small

The images above are courtesy of a colleague who recently went to Nashville, TN.  They depict publicly available electric vehicle charging stations in public parking lots.  Many new technologies, such as electric vehicles, beg the question of “Which comes first the chicken or the egg?”

This is where we would like your feedback, as we muscle through the regional financially constrained multimodal long-range transportation plan (CLRTP 2040) planning process.  Should we plan for and anticipate providing infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging stations, before there is a critical mass of ownership in or region?  Or should we wait?

Other aspects of this question to consider are:

  • What about travelers and tourists?  Would providing charging stations attract electric vehicle owners to visit the Roanoke Valley?
  • Is there a branding effect?  If we become known for this type of cutting edge infrastructure does the positive PR compensate for the costs?
  • Is there a negative branding effect?  If electric vehicles don’t take hold quickly would this be seen as a boondoggle?
  • Is this a “leadership by example” type of situation?
  • Can the private sector be counted on to provide infrastructure in anticipation of market demand?
  • Are there other technologies on the horizon?
  • Other?

We need you feedback on all of the above and other aspects of this question.  Please don’t be shy add your feedback in the comment section.

Website Now Includes Google Translate Widget

GoogleTranslate

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) website now contains the Google Translate Widget which is located below the “Latest Updates” sidebar.  This includes the pages related to Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVAMPO) work.  This is a part of our continued efforts to involve all stakeholders, including those with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in our planning process.  Planning is a collaborative endeavor where we co-create compelling visions of our community’s future.  All interested citizens should have the opportunity to join us in the planning process.

Would a Clay Tinted Shoulder Work Here?

Hard Shoulder Lane on Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia

Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia has recently added clay colored surface treatment to the shoulder to allow traffic to use the shoulder during rush hour.  It is difficult to explain how this works in words so here is a video from a TV station in the area.

Do you think that such an approach would work in the Roanoke Valley?

  • Would it work in the future when there is more traffic?
  • Would it work on I-81?
  • Would it work on I-581?
  • Would it introduce safety issues our area?
  • Would it provide any spillover benefits such as saving money, or making the area look more urban and advanced to visitors and economic development prospects?

Please answer these questions and provide your own ideas in the comment boxes below.  Let’s get a conversation going.

The client, citizen and stakeholder – a larger context for transportation planning

Business books and business classes at universities focus on the importance of providing value to external customers and clients.  Without customer value there is no business.  In the transportation planning context providing value means focusing on transportation systems that get people to work, appointments and play.  Economists call transportation a “derived demand” meaning that people use transportaChapter 1 - Smart Waytion to accomplish a primary activity such as showing up to work.  In that sense, the transportation system’s ability to provide value to citizens rests in part on the Roanoke Valley continuously improving as a livable and dynamic place to work, do business and enjoy life.

In a separate and complementary planning effort, the Partnership for a Livable Roanoke Valley contracted with Virginia Tech to perform a statistically valid telephone survey of 1,030 citizens of the greater region.  “Economic development, job creation and keeping jobs in the area” was the top priority of survey respondents with 92% of the 1030 respondents rating this as a regional top priority.  The Livable Roanoke Valley survey a good proxy for estimating what citizens and stakeholders in our region value.  In our development of the next regional long-range transportation plan, this means planning for transportation facilities and systems that:

  • promote economic development – such as freight facilities improve business logistics and supply chain connections or bicycle and pedestrian facilities that are valued by knowledge workers;
  • promote job creation – such at public transit services that expand the available workforce for businesses by providing access to employees who may not have been available without the service; and,
  • keep jobs in the area – such as passenger rail facilities and services that expand access to customers outside of the region.

In short, transportation planning should focus on the concept of “Ladders of Opportunity” for individuals to access employment and services.

The Livable Roanoke Valley will have a summit on June 25, 2014 to capstone the multi-year planning process.  Please plan on attending, more information can be found here:  http://rvarc.org/attend-the-livable-roanoke-valley-summit-on-june-25th/

The Livable Roanoke Valley Summit – June 25th – provides a larger context for transportation!

Business books and business classes at universities focus on the importance of providing value to external customers and clients.  Without customer value there is no business.  In the transportation planning context providing value means focusing on transportation systems that get people to work, appointments and play.  Economists call transportation a “derived demand” meaning that people use transportation to accomplish a primary activity such as showing up to work.  In that sense, the transportation system’s ability to provide value to citizens rests in part on the Roanoke Valley continuously improving as a livable and dynamic place to work, do business and enjoy life.

The Livable Roanoke Valley Plan provides this larger context for transportation.  The multi-year planning process is culminating in a Livable Roanoke Valley Summit on June 25th.  Please see the original blog post announcing the summit below (originally published on May 23, 3014)

Attend the Livable Roanoke Valley Summit on June 25th

vision-valley

Please join us for a half day Summit to unveil the final Livable Roanoke Valley Plan.  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. By attending to the event you will receive a bound copy of the plan, as well as a networking breakfast and lunch.  You can view the completed plan and supporting information at www.livableroanoke.org.

Register Here

PROGRAM

7:30AM   Networking Breakfast

8:30AM   Welcome and Opening Remarks
Wayne Strickland, Executive Director of the Regional Commission

8:45AM   Keynote Address
Bill Shelton, Director of the Virginia Dept. of Housing & Community Development

9:15AM   Livable Roanoke Valley Plan – Strategies and Champions
Lisa Garst, Chair of The Partnership for Livable Roanoke Valley

10:00AM   Break

10:15AM   Featured Economic and Workforces Development Initiatives
High Speed Broadband – Kevin Boggess
Regional STEM-H Programs – Jonathan Whitt
Xperience – Thomas Becher
Industry Sector Partnerships – Zenith Hamilton

11:15AM   Featured Health and Natural Asset Initiatives
Stormwater Banking Program – Mike McEvoy
Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program – Brent Cochran
Alternative Transportation – Jeremy Holmes
Community Dental Clinic – Eileen Lepro

12:30PM   Networking Lunch
Meet the Champions 

Annual Open House – May 27, 2014 – 3:00 to 6:00 pm

Please come to our Annual Open House which will feature in progress transportation planning work including a draft of the next long-range transportation plan’s vision statement and goals.

Please not that none of the links in the image below are click-able.

2014OpenHouseGraphic

MPO Welcomes Public Comments Concerning the FY2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program

The Roanoke Valley Area MetropolitanTIP15-18 Cover Page Planning Organization is giving the public an opportunity to request, review, read, and comment on the draft Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for Fiscal Years 2015-2018 for the Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, available at www.rvarc.org.  Click the Draft FY2015-2018 TIP image to the right to review the draft document.  

For convenience, you may provide comments on the Draft TIP by clicking here and submitting your comments to us online.  

For more information and to view the currently adopted FY12-15 document, visit the TIP page on the MPO website.

The public comment period will be in effect for no fewer than 45 days from the publication of this notice.  An official “Public Hearing” will be held after the public comment period has elapsed.  This Public Hearing will be duly advertised according to applicable laws.  For special accommodations or further information, contact Bryan Hill, Phone:  540-343-4417, Fax:  540-343-4416 or E-mail: bhill@rvarc.org.  Hearing impaired persons can call 711 for access.   Thank you for your comments and participation in the Transportation Improvement Program update process!