Author Archives: Rachel Ruhlen

Traffic Congestion Management Process

The Roanoke Valley doesn’t have much severe traffic congestion – and we want to keep it that way! After the population of the urbanized region exceeded 200,000, the RVTPO adopted its first federally required congestion management process in 2014. The 2020 Traffic Congestion Management Process, approved on October 22, is the first update, incorporating changes in technology and regulations, data analyses, and stakeholder input.

The update identifies five priority corridors for congestion management identified through analysis of real-time data collected from GPS-equipped vehicles and mobile devices as well as corridors of concern identified through public input. View the interactive map of corridors for congestion management here.

Learn more about the update of the Traffic Congestion Management Process here.

Transportation Improvement Program

The survey is now closed.

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year schedule of all federally-funded and regionally-significant transportation projects to be implemented in the RVTPO region. It functions like a budget and projects can only be funded if they are consistent with the goals of Vision 2040. RVTPO is updating the TIP and would like to know what you think of the proposed projects.

Review the complete TIP here: Transportation Improvement Program 2021-2024.

 

Traffic Congestion Management Process

The Roanoke Valley doesn’t have much severe traffic congestion – and we want to keep it that way! The RVTPO updated the Traffic Congestion Management Process in 2020.

Modern technology has revolutionized our ability to define and objectively measure traffic congestion. Using “big data” collected from GPS-equipped vehicles and smart phone apps, we can literally see where traffic congestion occurs, how long it lasts, and how often. The traffic congestion metric that the Roanoke Valley uses is Planning Time Index.


Click on the image to see how Planning Time Index changes throughout the day.

Analysis of this data shows that the Roanoke Valley traffic congestion is not widespread, does not last a long time, and does not occur very often. Four corridors may be at risk of performing poorly:

Another corridor that may be at risk is Gus Nicks Boulevard / Washington Avenue, but travel time data is not available.

View a map of Priority Corridors for congestion management and Other Corridors.

Outreach

Input from locality staff, freight logistics managers, and the public guided this update.

  • Locality staff attended a Congestion Workshop on November 6, 2019.
    • The Land Use focus group discussed how local government can guide or nudge land use through the permitting process to manage traffic congestion while promoting economic growth.
    • The Transportation Demand Management focus group discussed the efforts of RIDE Solutions, the local transportation demand management organization that promotes carpooling, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian travel.
    • The Performance Measures focus group discussed technical details about monitoring traffic congestion regionally and at specific locations.
  • Freight logistics managers provided input through individual interviews about how traffic congestion affects freight movement.
  • A survey collected input from 304 participants who provided 527 comments.

Guide to Getting Around Roanoke Valley

There are many ways to get around the Roanoke Valley without a car. This guide explores  independent transportation options including buses and trolleys, transportation for people with disabilities, taxis, rideshare (Uber & Lyft), bikeshare (Zagster), rental bikes, and rental cars. Intercity bus, passenger rail, and air passenger services provide longer distance options.

Download the Guide To Getting Around Roanoke or visit 313 Luck Ave SW and get your copy today!

Public Right-of-Way Accessibility

People with certificates

Left to right: Tiffany, Dr. Eck, Rachel, and Garrett

RVARC staff and volunteers learned about the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) during a workshop from the University of Virginia Transportation Technical Academy. PROWAG ensure that all people can navigate safely on foot in the public right-of-way.

Rachel Ruhlen felt the training would enhance the bike/walk/disability audits that the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee has been doing with locality staff. During these audits, locality staff are always impressed watching Garrett Brumfield, a committee member, or Tiffany Lee, a volunteer, navigate the sidewalk and streets in their wheelchairs, or blind volunteers find their way around using sound and touch. The audits often turn up simple repairs that can make a big difference to a person with vision or mobility impairment.

RVARC sent Rachel, Garrett, and Tiffany to the workshop to learn PROWAG, the best practices for accessibility, developed by the US Department of Justice Access Board.

RVTPO brings Title VI Training to Roanoke

Mohamed Dumbuya, Title VI Coordinator and Civil Rights Program Manager for the Virginia Division of the Federal Highway Administration, gave a Title VI training to 23 people representing 12 agencies on February 27, 2019. Metropolitan planning organizations like the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) that receive federal transportation funds and must have a Title VI process to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its related authorities (executive orders, related legislation, court decisions, and other regulations).

Roanoke, like many cities, used urban renewal in an unfair and discriminatory manner, with consequences that are still felt today. These practices prompted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other legislation throughout the decades. Another change since the days of urban renewal is the creation of metropolitan planning organizations which coordinate transportation planning between localities throughout the region. Abiding by Title VI and its related authorities at all steps of transportation planning ensures that the benefits and burdens of transportation projects are shared equitably.

RVTPO worked with FHWA and VDOT to bring Mohamed Dumbuya to Roanoke. Staff from RVTPO, VDOT, localities, and other MPOs took advantage of the Title VI training opportunity.

Title VI and its related authorities prohibit discrimination, intentional or unintentional, on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and age. The related authorities protect minorities, people of low income, handicapped persons, and people with limited English proficiency and mandate fair and equitable treatment of persons displaced as a result of programs and projects receiving federal funds.

For the RVTPO, Title VI means:

  • Ensuring that all stakeholders have opportunity to comment on plans, programs, and projects,
  • Making sure that the benefits and burdens of plans, programs, and projects are shared equitably,
  • Documenting the methods of administration, and
  • Documenting Title VI data.

RVTPO will be updating its Title VI Implementation Process in the coming months.

Congestion Question

The last time you experienced traffic congestion, where were you trying to go? Tell us with our first ever crowdsourcing map app!

Report congestion here. Use the buttons in the upper left to get help, add a point or a line with a comment, or view the legend.

Having trouble getting started? Click the help button in the upper left corner of the map: 

Still not sure what to do? Use the mouse to pan and the mouse wheel or the “+” and “-” buttons  to zoom in until you see the place where you experience traffic congestion. Use the search box to quickly find an address or street.

Click the “Edit” button and select “New Feature” to add a point or a line. For example, you might add a point at an intersection or specific address. Or you might draw a line along a longer segment where you experience congestion.

If adding a line, double-click to the end the line.

After adding a point or line, you can enter a comment. Tell us where you were going when you experienced traffic congestion.

The comment will be saved when you click “Close”.

RVARC receives bronze Bicycle Friendly Business designation

RVARC is now a League of American Bicyclists recognized Bronze Bicycle Friendly BusinessSM (BFBSM)!

On December 18, RVARC joined a cutting-edge group of over 1,300 local businesses, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies across the United States that are transforming the American workplace.

“Business owners and employers across the country are looking for simple, straightforward ways to build their companies, do right by their workers and customers, and contribute positively to their local communities,” says Executive Director Bill Nesper of the League of American Bicyclists. “Boosting participation in bicycling achieves all of that and more, and BFBs such as RVARC are wonderful models of that success. We congratulate this latest class of business leaders for recognizing that one of the oldest and easiest forms of transportation still generates significant economic and societal rewards today.”

BFB requirements identify incentives, programming, and amenities proven to enable and inspire more people to ride bikes. RVARC offers free bikeshare membership to its employees, maintains the Regional Bikeway Plan and interactive bike map, and works with localities to implement bicycle improvements. In addition, RVARC staffs the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. RIDE Solutions, a program of RVARC, launched Zagster bikeshare in 2017, and administers the Bike Hero award and the bicycle rack donation program. RVARC planner Rachel Ruhlen likes working for a BFB because, “As a planner, I know that the more people who bike to work, the stronger the community is. Working for a BFB inspires me to bike to work more.”

According to RIDE Solutions employee Tim Pohlad-Thomas, “the most significant actions taken by RVARC in the past year have been expanding the new Zagster bikeshare program and reenergizing the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which conducts bike/walk/disability audits of on-road bike/ped facilities for localities.”

Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly Business program at bikeleague.org/business.

Bicycle Friendly Business and BFB are Service Marks of the League of American Bicyclists; used with permission.

Meet the renovated Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee

In August of 2016, the Regional Bicycle Advisory Committee met for the first time in a couple of years. Most of those who attended were locality staff, and they missed the citizens who had given such valuable input into the bike projects throughout the years. New staff struggled to understand the purpose and function of the committee and its history. In short, the committee experienced an existential crisis, asking why it existed, who it was, what it should do, and how it should do it.

Committee members explore the Garden City Greenway with the engineer on an annual field trip

After several deep discussions, the group worked with the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) to develop its purpose and procedures. Its named changed to the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, reflecting the close relationship of bicycle and pedestrian issues.

The purpose of the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee is to facilitate regional collaboration with diverse stakeholders in planning bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the Roanoke Valley. It develops an Action Plan to guide its efforts each year and reports to the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) of the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization. Members are roughly half locality staff and half citizens.

The TTC adopted the purpose and procedures of the new committee on January 11, 2018 and began accepting applications for the ten at-large positions. Astonishingly, the TTC received 25 applications! Applications included teachers, bike shops, accountants, and non-profit staff. They bike and walk for transportation, for fun and fitness, or by necessity. We had a diverse pool of applicants representing “protected populations” criteria such as mobility impairment, visual impairment, minority, and low-income. With so many well-qualified applicants, the decisions were difficult.

In April, the TTC appointed the initial ten at-large members to staggered two-year terms. The committee itself will make future appointments subject to TTC approval. The committee will meet on June 21, 2018, 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the Regional Commission, 313 Luck Ave SW, to learn about its roles and responsibilities and discuss its Action Plan. Meetings are open to the public. Learn more on the committee web page.