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.”

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