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

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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.

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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!

Can we re-think the sidewalk and the bike lane?

Bicycle Lanes retrofitted into grocery store parking lot-small Bike and Pedestrian Lanes Mulhouse #3

I have placed these two images from Europe in several social media channels, in order to stoke discussion about whether similar approaches could work here.  For the sake of discussion let’s defer on whether the differences between European and American engineering design, safety standards and/or laws-ordinances would allow these or similar designs in the Roanoke Valley.  Instead, let’s assume that developers could re-purpose a portion of a mall or grocery store parking lot to contain pedestrian paths and/or bike lanes; or that local governments could re-configure the concept of a sidewalk as a multi-user path.

Do you think it would work here?  Would developers be interested in participating?  Would a different approach to the concept of a sidewalk help increase our “amenities” from economic development and transportation perspectives?  Do you have new and different ideas on non-motorized transportation?  Do you have your own pictures of non-motorized transportation infrastructure that you can share via a link in the comment box?

We would like your feedback and discussion.  Please use the comment boxes below to add your ideas. 

What are your ideas for Goals and Objectives?

Planners are often unfairly characterized as waiting to the last minute to seek input from the public.  This perception is driven by the public hearing and open meeting laws that require a public hearing be advertised in the newspaper a certain number of times/days before the hearing.  In our case, these laws apply to the RVAMPO’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  However, these laws have the unintended consequence of giving off the impression that planners wait until the last minute before seeking feedback through a “public hearing.”  In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.  We planners need good constructive input and feedback from citizens to help us develop plans in the first place.  Gone are the days of the 1950’s and 60’s in which planners believed that there was one rational and comprehensive planning model that applies to all situations.  Now, the vast majority of planners see their role as using professionalism and tools to have a conversation with citizens (“the public”) and to facilitate joint creation of plans that reflect the values and aspirations of a community.  This new role redefines the way planners view the public involvement process, which was previously mechanical and primarily benchmark driven.

With the above in mind, many plans often begin with “Goals” and “Objectives.”  The next LRTP – due in the summer of 2015 – will be no exception.  So, we are asking – even imploring – you for your early input to help us develop the “Goals” and “Objectives” of the next Long-Range Transportation Plan.  We are not waiting for a “public hearing,” we crave your input and feedback now!  Please put your ideas for goals and objectives in the comment box below.  Let’s get a conversation going.

Here is a convenient and concise definition of Goals and Objectives – courtesy of the State of Michigan http://www.michigan.gov/documents/8-pub207_60743_7.pdf   – to help get you started:

 Goals and Objectives

Our High-Tech Future?

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Does this conceptual reversible lane system represent part of our high tech future? Comment below with your ideas.

When I was growing up, movies and TV shows depicted a high-tech future (now) of automated transportation and fast mag-lev trains.  It seemed that the high-tech future was always around the corner.  Some of these images were artistic license in order to make movies look interesting.  Other predictions were overly optimistic concerning the technical challenges involved.

However, due to real advances in automated systems, Google’s forays into self driving and driver assist vehicles are just one example, some version of the high-tech future for transportation may actually arrive within the next 20 years.  As we are developing the next regional Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), we would like to hear from you.  Which technologies do you think will impact transportation and travel in the next 20 years.  What are the “game changers” in your opinion.  Use the comment boxes to put forth your ideas.

Beginning with the End in Mind!

http://in-the-flow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Begin-with-the-end-in-mind.png

Image courtesy of the following blog: http://in-the-flow.com/beginning-mind/ Fair use standard assumed for informational and educational purposes.

I am a book on CD fan.  I mainly listen to business, leadership or other “nerdy” books.  In several leadership and self-improvement titles the concept of “beginning with the end in mind” is wholeheartedly advocated.  To give credit where it is due, this concept is especially prevalent in the late Stephen Covey’s work.

Let’s try a version of “beginning with the end in mind” with regards to the next regional long-range transportation plan (LRTP 2040), which will be completed in the summer of 2015.  In planning “beginning with the end in mind” does not mean deciding plan recommendations ahead of time. Plan recommendations are developed throughout the process with public and stakeholder involvement.  However, “beginning with the end in mind” can mean thinking through the structure and form of the final end product – the plan itself.  In that spirit, below is a screenshot of the draft table of contents for the plan.  Please comment with your own feedback and suggestions in the comment boxes below.

Why do we have a long-range transportation plan?

We are about to kick off a process that will update the regional long-range transportation plan (LRTP) for the urban area.  The updated LRTP will be completed by the end of summer 2015.  This begs the question “Why do we have a regional LRTP in the first place?”  There are two good, straightforward answers to this question:

1) Every urbanized area with a population over 50,000 in the US must have a regional LRTP in order to get federal transportation funds

2) The process of planning itself brings forth the questions, discussions and tradeoffs necessary to make better decisions.

According to the website Wikiquote, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the following assertion in a 1957 speech:

I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.

Although this quote states that plans are worthless, it makes the point that the planning process that leads to the plan is absolutely necessary and extremely valuable.  I suspect that the plans are worthless part of the quote was probably said for effect, and it is unlikely that Eisenhower only valued the process and not the outcome.  Rather, I think that Eisenhower wanted to emphasize that extremely important decisions, such as where durable long-lasting transportation infrastructure is built, should not be the subject of arbitrary, knee-jerk, go-with-the-gut, or spur-of-the-moment decisions.  And, we should not expect planners to predict the future with infallible accuracy and precision. 

After all, few of us would actually expect private sector Wall Street Analysts to predict exact stock prices for individual stocks 20 years from now.  Rather, we should expect planners to anticipate scenarios, envision possible trends in the future, and to lead us through a process that helps us make the best decisions we can today given uncertainty and limited resources. It is just such a process that we are kicking off from now through the summer of 2015.  We will need your participation and feedback, in order to, advise our local elected officials on wise and prudent decisions regarding transportation funding.  Please stay tuned and stay engaged.