Finish Roanoke River Greenway from Green Hill Park to the Blue Ridge Parkway
Regional Surface Transportation Program Application
1. Project Sponsors: City of Roanoke, City of Salem, Roanoke County, Town of Vinton
In cooperation with Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission
2. Proposed Implementing Agencies: City of Roanoke, City of Salem, Roanoke County
3. Project Description and Proposed Improvement Locations: (aerials attached)
This project requests $12,775,000 for completion of Roanoke River Greenway (hereinafter referred to as RRG)
from Green Hill Park to the Blue Ridge Parkway making a 21.2-mile bicycle /pedestrian trail across the Roanoke
Valley. To date 12.2 miles of this greenway are completed and open, 1.7 miles funded, and 7.3 miles partially
funded. The four sections which need additional funding, are: 1) Green Hill Park to Woodbridge and Mill Lane to
Riverside Park, 2) Eddy Avenue and Apperson Drive bridges, 3) Roanoke /Salem line to Bridge Street, and 4)
Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) to Blue Ridge Parkway.
4. Detailed Scope of Work, Relation to Other Phases, Status, and Other Funding Sources (details attached)
The following table summarizes the scope of work for this funding request. Each of these four sections has
previous funding through Enhancement or Open Container grants. A detailed status chart for the whole
greenway is attached, showing the status in each locality and the connectivity of the phases.
5. t 9. Not Applicable. This project is a bicycle /pedestrian shared use path.
10. Project Cost by Phase and Funding Request by Year t A detailed budget for each section is attached.
11. RSTP Project Rating Factors
A. Regional Project Consideration
This project is being submitted jointly by the City of Roanoke, City of Salem, Roanoke County and the Town of
Vinton, with endorsement by the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission. The project is located in three of the
four jurisdictions and is connected to Vinton by an existing bridge. The project serves citizens from all
jurisdictions and has become a focal point for visitors and tourists. The greenway is popular across the Valley,
and its completion would be hailed as a huge accomplishment representative of exemplary cooperation among
the four localities, Greenway Commission, and many, many partners.
RRG is the priority facility for non-motorized transportation in the valley and the #1 priority in the
regional Greenway Plan. Its route parallel to the river provides an east-west corridor through the heart of the
urbanized area, thus giving bicycles and pedestrians a route to access every jurisdiction. When completed, it will
connect to seven industrial and business complexes, fourteen parks, two sport complexes, two skateboard
parks, Riverside Center, neighborhoods across the valley, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Its location within two
blocks of bus routes in 17 locations, its intersection with three other greenways and trails, and its connection to
15 other bicycle routes provides for regional, multi-modal transportation. RRG is heavily used, with counters in
Roanoke showing 20,000+ per month, ADT 600+. It has become important to regional economic development,
attraction of businesses and employees, and special events, as well as neighborhood revitalization.
B. Support Economic Vitality of the Metropolitan Area
The Roanoke Valley is seeing the economic impact of the greenway network. Completion of RRG will lead to
increases in tourism and associated revenues, but the greenway has already contributed to growth of small
businesses, real estate redevelopment, residential investment, attraction of employees, environmental
protection, a healthier workforce, and neighborhood revitalization.
x Small Businesses: Underdog Bikes, River Greenway Bicycle Rental, HITS Frozen treats, and East Coasters.
x Commercial Investment: RiverHouse ($15M), Wasena TapRoom, River Rock Indoor Climbing Gym. Coming
soon: Riverside Station between Jefferson Street and the river with its own greenway connections.
x Residential Real Estate: A study by Roanoke staff showed property values within 2000 feet of the trail
increased 32% more than average. Owners with For Sale signs are now installing them facing the greenway.
x Business & Employee Attraction: The Medical School, Meridium and Novozymes tout ZPv[
importance in attracting employees and students and in decisions to locate to the Valley.
x Tourism: When 21 miles of trail are complete, with a connection to the Parkway, RRG will become a
destination for those within a 2-3 hour drive. Studies have shown substantial expenditures by non-local trail
users; in FY2010 $238,300, 2%, of total tax revenue in Galax, VA was attributable to New River Trail use.
x Special Events: The greenway has become so popular as a venue for races that the City of Roanoke is now
charging for use. Events like the Blue Ridge Marathon, with an economic impact of $1.06M over three years,
attract many visitors to the valley, as well as providing substantial support for non-profits.
x Health and Fitness: Wellness of the work force is an important consideration for businesses, a critical factor
in reducing expenses and increasing productivity. Greenways promote exercise and health. A university
study of Roanoke showed that residents are 40% more likely to exercise if there is a greenway nearby.
x Neighborhood Revitalization: The Greenway has helped spur a renaissance in Wasena and Mountain View
neighborhoods and supports the Grandin Village area.
C. Increase the Safety and Security of the Transportation System
The greenway network was conceived by citizens in 1995 as a way to provide safe opportunities for bicycling
and walking without interaction with cars. The Roanoke Valley street /road network is constrained by tight
development, railroad lines, the river, narrow road shoulders, hills, and drivers unaccustomed to non-motorized
users. RRG is an off-road, safe connection for those who prefer or need to travel without an automobile. Section
#2 of this project, the two bridges in Salem, specifically addresses a safety issue where the trail utilizes a narrow
sidewalk. At Eddy Avenue, the work will also eliminate an at-grade crossing.
D. Increase the Accessibility and Mobility Options
RRG is the longest outdoor, handicapped-accessible, facility in the Valley, available to people of all ages and
from all walks of life, of all levels of ability or disability, and free to residents and visitors. It is a unique resource
providing a transportation corridor for bicycles and pedestrians, fitness facility, recreation opportunity, and
connection to nature. It connects all four jurisdictions and provides access to multiple sidewalks, bike routes,
and business and recreation facilities in those communities.
E. Protect and Enhance the Environment, Promote Energy Conservation and Improve Quality of Life
Construction of RRG has led to a variety of benefits, many of them environmental. Restoration of the river
corridor has included clean-up of hazardous waste sites, removal of a trailer park, collection of trash,
replacement of sewer lines, and removal of obstructions to fish travel. Conservation of the riparian buffer is now
the norm. The greenway and adjacent lands are managed as a park, with riparian tree planting, interpretive
signs, sculptures, canoe launches, and fitness stations. With thousands of greenway users along the river each
week, there are many eyes now watching and hands helping to protect this natural resource. The greenway is a
^Pv]v(_(]o]Z}Z]v]}vuvvZ}}oZ]Uprotects water quality,
provides wildlife habitat, and reduces fuel consumption by those using it, thus saving transportation costs.
RRG is free to users. It is popular for running, walking, bicycling, strollers, skating, wheelchairs, events,
access for boating, fishing, and bird watching. In Roanoke, greenways ranked as the second most important
arts /cultural asset. In City and County park plans, greenways ranked as the most important recreation facility.
RRG has also }u^uo]vP}_ZuvovPPvZvv]}vo]]vX
(]]]}_Xtv}and facilities that provide every citizen with a chance to enjoy healthful
outdoor activities. We need safe routes for non-motorized transportation for commuting and other pursuits of
daily life. We need places where people can congregate, socialize, and enjoy the outdoors. We need community
resources for events that benefit charitable causes, such as races and festivals. Completing the RRG will address
all of these needs and encourage active living, enabling people to walk and bike close to home for every day
destinations and expanding these benefits to a broader range of our citizenry.
F. Enhance the Integration and Connectivity of the Transportation System, Across and Between Modes
As RRG gets longer, it becomes more important as a transportation facility, connecting business and
employment centers in the corridor to residential and recreational resources. Many citizens are now riding
bicycles to work; commuting by bicycle between Salem and Roanoke will be even more feasible when RRG is
completed. Others use the greenway for activities like shopping. With gas increasingly expensive, RRG provides
an alternative, non-motorized option that is free with positive side effects from the exercise. The expansion of
the on-road bicycling network, the inclusion of bicycle racks on buses, and the continuity RRG can provide when
completed all enhance the connectivity of the transportation system across non-motorized and transit modes.
G. Promote Efficient System Management and Operation
In the Roanoke Valley, greenways are owned and operated by the four localities. In the City of Roanoke and
Roanoke County, greenways are maintained by the Parks Departments, in the City of Salem by the Streets
Department, and in Vinton by Public Works. The efficiency of this is that the jurisdiction closest to the facility has
responsibility and equipment on hand to address operation issues. The rapid clean-up after the January 25, 2013
flood shows the localities’ commitment to maintenance and the (]o][importance to citizens.
H. Emphasize the Preservation of Existing Transportation System
This project expands the transportation system. Connection of existing sections to each other improves the
efficiencies of management and maintenance, encourages use and volunteering along the whole greenway, and
thus encourages preservation of the existing system by making it part of a bigger system.
I. Cost /Benefit Consideration
Two cost /benefit analyses for portions of RRG have been completed. In 2009 the Army Corps of Engineers
estimated benefits of adding 4.5 miles of trail from the Roanoke /Salem line to Wasena Park. Based on visitation
of 243,200, the annual recreation benefit would be $1.64 million (2001 dollars). The other analysis was an
IMPLAN model prepared by the Regional Commission in 2009 for a TIGER application. It estimated that,
conservatively, the annual economic impact of the Greenway from non-local users would be $2.08 million and
that, for every dollar invested, there would be a $2.02 return.
J. Inclusion in Other Plans
RRG is included in the 2007 Virginia Outdoors Plan (p. 349-50, 353), the comprehensive /community plans of
Roanoke, Salem, Roanoke County and Vinton, 2007 Update to the Roanoke Valley Conceptual Greenway Plan,
Bikeway Plan for the Roanoke Valley Area MPO – 2012 Update, FY 2012-2015 TIP, 1998 Roanoke River
Preliminary Greenway Plan (Roanoke County & Salem), 2000 Roanoke River Greenway Master Plan (City of
Roanoke), 2002 East Roanoke River Greenway Master Plan, and multiple neighborhood plans in Roanoke. All of
these plans have had public input components.