Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission staff has prepared a COVID-19 dashboard that tracks regional cases and includes demographics and mapping on vulnerable populations. Data and mapping is available for each locality down to the census tract level. Unemployment claims, nursing homes location, zip code COVID-19 data are included in the dashboard. COVID-19 cases and deaths are updated hourly from Johns Hopkins. To access the dashboard, click here.
The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) held its second transportation performance measure workshop on March 13th at the Green Ridge Recreation Center, a follow-up to the first workshop on November 29. Transportation for America (T4America), an alliance of civic and business leaders dedicated to transportation investment solutions, and the Economic Development Research Group, a firm specializing in regional economic evaluation, analysis, and planning, hosted the event as part of the T4America technical assistance grant awarded to the RVTPO.
As state and federal performance measure requirements continue to change over the years, local and regional governments must find innovative ways to remain competitive in terms of jobs creation, economic growth, quality of life, and overall regional viability. In this light, the workshop focused its discussions on the nexus between performance-driven investments in transportation and regional economic vitality and growth.
The workshop specifically focused on the reliance of outcome-based decision-making in regional transportation planning and the ability to detect the outcomes that may or may not result from the direct products of transportation spending. How many jobs will a transportation project create? Are people going to be able to get to work faster? How will transportation spending affect downtown businesses? Will a transportation project promote greater multimodal use? These are just a few of the questions that arise when considering how transportation decisions achieve regional priorities.
There was also discussion on the critical importance of SMART SCALE, a transportation financial mechanism and premier project prioritization rubric for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and its implications on transportation planning within the Roanoke Valley. Click here for a detailed summary of the March 13th workshop.
A wealth of knowledge and expertise was present at this event. Over 30 local officials, planners, engineers, and transportation specialists from the Roanoke Valley attended. Among the presenters were Chris Zimmerman (Click here for presentation) and Rayla Bellis of T4America, Leigh Holt from the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (Click here for presentation), Chad Tucker, Smart Scale Manager for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Naomi Stein from Economic Development Research Group.
With the T4America technical assistance and input from the two workshops, the RVTPO will be working to incorporate more performance-based, outcome-based solutions to address many of the transportation needs in the Roanoke Valley.
In January, the U.S. Economic Development Administration designated the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany region an Economic Development District (EDD). This designation enhances our ability to obtain grants from EDA. A key function of EDDs is to develop, maintain and assist in implementing a regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and support local governments in short-term planning activities.
The EDD area will be comprised of the counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, and Roanoke; and the cities of Covington, Roanoke and Salem.
Commenting on EDD designation, Congressman Bob Goodlatte said “The ability to attract new economic development, and with the jobs, educational opportunities, and innovation, is key to the growth of any community. This Economic Development District designation is encouraging news for the Roanoke and Alleghany region! I am pleased that the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission’s hard work and perseverance has brought this great opportunity to fruition to help strengthen local economies. I look forward to seeing how our part of the Commonwealth continues to grow.”
Wayne Strickland, Executive Director of the Regional Commission, stated “The Commission recognized the benefits of our region in being designated an EDD. The designation process took several years to complete, but the time and effort put into obtaining EDD status will result in expanding opportunities for funding important economic development projects in the region.”
Notice of Request for Proposals for Compensation Study Consultant Services
The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission is seeking proposals from qualified consulting firms and individuals to perform a regional compensation study. Responses will be accepted until 4:00pm EST on Friday, February 17, 2017. This public body does not discriminate as outlined by the Code of Virginia. Minority and women-owned businesses are encouraged to apply. For the complete RFP, click here.
Roanoke Va. – (Sept. 27, 2016) – On September 7, 2016, the City of Roanoke and the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority received the prestigious Governor’s Technology Award for Cross-Boundary Collaboration at a ceremony during the annual COVITS conference in Richmond, Virginia.
The Award recognizes local, state and educational public sector information technology (IT) projects that have improved government service delivery and efficiency as chosen by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth Nelson Moe.
In July, Roanoke County approved funding to build a 25-mile, $3.4 million expansion of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority’s (RVBA) fiber network. Once finished, the total network will cover 72 miles throughout the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the Counties of Botetourt and Roanoke. The Roanoke County expansion will run near 650 commercial properties.
Roanoke County leaders have said that the network’s current course misses several key commercial clusters in the county. The county’s design of the additional 25 miles of fiber hits areas such as Virginia 419 between Tanglewood Mall and Salem and the town of Vinton.
Roanoke River Blueway Designated as a Virginia Treasure
The Roanoke River Blueway has been designated as a Natural, Cultural and Recreational Treasure as part of the Virginia Treasures program, an initiative by Governor McAuliffe to preserve, protect and highlight Virginia’s most important ecological, cultural, scenic and recreational assets as well as its special lands. A recreational treasure is a one that provides new public access to a natural, cultural or scenic outdoor recreation resource. These are projects that help the public by enhancing outdoor recreation and foster stewardship of natural and cultural resources.
Read more about the Roanoke River Blueway here…
The Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Commission is partnering with the City of Roanoke for the annual National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation week! Volunteer on Wednesday from 5-7pm or Saturday from 12-2pm to count the number of pedestrians and bicyclists at designated locations. For more information, contact Amanda McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environmental Justice (EJ) has a slightly misleading name. It is more of a social justice and fairness concept. It does have a connection to the physical environment through emphasizing that traditionally underrepresented communities, low-income and minority communities, should not be adversely affected by disproportionate exposure to pollution, or other adverse impacts, from transportation projects. However, the central meaning behind EJ is more about not disrupting the social fabric, cohesion and development of traditionally underrepresented communities. Disruption could occur by separating communities with large thoroughfare transportation projects that don’t directly serve the communities and may serve as barriers. At its core EJ seeks to learn from the mistakes of the “Urban Renewal” era of the 1960s and 70s in which vibrant and successful urban neighborhoods were divided by freeways and highways subsequently harming the economic health and social fabric of the neighborhoods. More information about the official history of the EJ concept with its origins in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Orders 12898 and 13166 in the late 90s and early 2000s can be found in the RVTPO Title VI, Environmental Justice and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan.
EJ concepts extend beyond the planning phase through the project development, engineering and construction phases. For our purposes as a federally recognized Metropolitan Planning Organization (We go by the name Transportation Planning Organization in our region), EJ concepts will primarily be implemented at two separate levels:
- In the long-range plan at the planning level to the financially constrained list of projects; and,
- When RVTPO implements long-range plan by applying for SMART SCALE High Priority funding (the Virginia Prioritization and Programming system) over successive application cycles. SMART SCALE is the effective link between the long-range transportation plan and the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
These two levels, separated in time, allow us to use a “canary in the coal mine” approach in the long-range plan. The EJ Framework will primarily identify red flags and screen out any patently inappropriate projects from the long-range plan. Later, before projects are actually applied for in SMART SCALE, we can use the framework again, in a more robust manner, to modify the scope of the SMART SCALE application to address any additional EJ concerns that arise.
In order to evaluate EJ impacts, both positive and negative, we will use our new EJ Benefits and Burdens Framework that was developed for the RVTPO in the form of a Master Degree Thesis by Allison Homer at Virginia Tech. We are fortunate to have this up-to-date framework that can incorporate new tools such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s EJSCREEN and go beyond these tools for a robust planning level implementation of EJ concepts. Please look forward to more news on the applying EJ through the new Constrained Long-Range Multimodal Transportation Plan 2040 in the coming months.