What do regional long-range plans and business books have in common?

Bike and Pedestrian Lanes Mulhouse #3

It can be difficult to craft a long-range transportation plan.  As you can imagine, much of the feedback we get from citizens and stakeholders involves day-to-day questions such as; “Who will pay for all of this?”  This natural question helps to illustrate the basic challenge that we have as long-range planners; “How do we develop and communicate a long-term vision, when many people naturally think in terms of day-to-day decisions?”

The ultimate goal is to craft a long-term leadership vision that can be implemented through prudent and strategic day-to-day decisions.  It is the old “Eat the elephant one bite at a time!” proverb.  However, we live in a world of complex social and economic interactions that defy “one size fits all” approaches.  One way to think through this tension between long-term vision and day-to-day decisions is to use economic frameworks.  I do a lot of personal study and reading in economics.  It is a deep interest of mine, and I think it helps inform our work as planners.  I especially think that Behavioral Economics  will prove to be very informative to planners in the coming years.

That said, many people think of economics in terms of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand  . Although this is a useful metaphor for many basic day-to-day market interactions, there are times when it doesn’t necessarily hold.  For instance, imagine that you are at a football game and everyone is comfortably seated and can see the game.  Then a few people stand up to get a better view, then more and soon the whole stadium is standing.  The end result is that everyone pretty much has the same view as before; however, they are less comfortable.  If an announcer communicated the “vision” to request everyone to please sit down over the loudspeaker, or if stadium rules didn’t permit standing during the game then the cycle could be broken.

Long-range plans are similar in this regard.  In essence they are just trying to point out that everyone is standing, when they could be better off being comfortably seated and watching the game.  Popular leadership and business books espouse this idea when it comes to individual career development and organizational development.  In essence they tell readers to craft a personal vision (or organizational vision for leadership books) and then act on that vision through day-to-day workplace decisions.  This advice is well received by the majority of professionals in the workforce as evidenced by how big the business, management and leadership category of books is in bookstores or on Amazon.  All we are saying is to think of regional long-range transportation plans as crafting a vision for the community and then encouraging leaders to act on that vision through day-to-day decisions.  Most of us already accept this advice in our professional lives via business books.  Why not accept the same approach for the community through long-range plans?

 

Public Meeting on RVTPO Planning Process

Notice of a Public Meeting to Receive Comments on the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization’s (RVTPO) Planning Process

march2 public meeting flyerThe Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will hold a public meeting in coordination with the RVTPO regarding the RVTPO’s Federal Certification Review. Representatives from the FHWA and the FTA will be present and are interested in hearing from the public. The primary purpose of the review is to certify that the RVTPO is satisfactorily meeting the planning requirements as defined in Federal laws and regulations. The review also provides FHWA and FTA the opportunity to add value to the RVTPO’s planning processes through the sharing of best or innovative planning practices, techniques, and/or technology.

This is an opportunity for the public to express their thoughts and comments about the transportation planning process; to allow the Federal Review Team to obtain a better understanding of the community’s issues; and to inform the public about the Federal transportation planning requirements.

A public meeting will be on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Campbell Court (31 Campbell Ave. SW, Roanoke, VA 24013) – Second Floor.  For questions or directions, contact Mark McCaskill at Ph: (540)343-4417, Fax: (540)343-4416, Email: mmccaskill@rvarc.org. The RVTPO will strive to provide reasonable accommodations and services for persons who require special assistance to participate in public involvement opportunities. Hearing impaired may dial TTY/TDD at 1-800-828-1120 or 711 for access. Contact the Public Involvement and Community Outreach Coordinator at (540) 343-4417 for more information.”  The RVTPO fully complies with Title VI of the Civic Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities.  For more information, or to obtain a Discrimination Complaint Form, see http://rvarc.org/transportation/title-vi-and-ada-notices/ or call (540)343-4417.  If you are unable to attend the meeting in person you can provide your feedback at the following link from now until March 2ndhttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RVTPO

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Provide Input to the Transit Vision Plan Through an Online Meeting

The Roanoke Valley is not like it was 25 years ago, nor will it be like it is today in 25 years.  In order to better meet the needs of citizens today and in the future, a Transit Vision Plan for the Roanoke Valley is under development.  Initial surveys and data analysis have been completed and results are available in the Technical Report to the Transit Vision Plan.

On November 5th, two public workshops were held to gather public input and preferences on the current and future state and use of transit in the Roanoke Valley.  Participants were able to draw preferences for transit on maps, place dots indicating preferences on boards, and complete comment forms as part of the meeting.  Following the two meetings, held at the Campbell Court Transportation Center and the Brambleton Center,

TVP Pub Mtg.--110515For those unable to attend the Public Open House Workshops on November 5, please click here to participate in the online public meeting.  The survey asks for the same input found on the maps and boards at the Open House meetings.

The survey will remain active until Friday, December 11th, at which point all responses received will be analyzed and incorporated into the final Plan.

For more information on the Transit Vision Plan, please visit the page here.

Come to the Public Workshops for the Region’s Transit Vision Plan

The RVTPO is currently working on a long-term Transit Vision Plan that will help shape future investments and planning for the Roanoke Valley’s transit services in the urban portions of Bedford County, Botetourt County, Montgomery County, City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, City of Salem, and the Town of Vinton. The workshops will be offered at two locations in the Roanoke Valley.

• 3 to 5 p.m. at Campbell Court, 31 Campbell Ave. S.W. (to RSVP or share this event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/480784788760676/)
• 7 to 9 p.m. at the Brambleton Center, 3738 Brambleton Ave.

RoanokeValley TPO from Dale Saylor on Vimeo.

FY16 HB2 Project Applications Summary

Following last month’s TPO Policy Board meeting, six HB2 candidate projects were prioritized, which staff subsequently prepared and submitted by the September 30 deadline. Those six projects and their priorities are as follows:

COST ESTIMATES / FUNDING SOURCESTOTAL
I-81 NORTHBOUND AUXILIARY LANE FROM EXIT 141 TO 143Preliminary Engineering (PE)$3,048,451.00
Right-of-Way Acquisition (RW)$540,722.00
Construction (CN)$26,241,543.00
Six-Year Improvement Plan Allocations$0.00
Other Committed Funding Amount$0.00
Total Proposed Project Funding$29,830,716.00
HB2 Requested Funds$29,830,716.00

Project Description

  1. Construction of a 12-foot auxiliary lane and new 12-foot outside shoulder along northbound I-81 between Exits 141 and 143.
  2. The lane will be an extension of the entrance ramp at Exit 141 to extend to the exit to Exit 143.
  3. Construction includes retaining and sound walls, and stormwater management facilities in various locations along the corridor.
  4. Project will provide additional capacity between NB Exits 141 & 143 and provide for safer merge movements between exits.
COST ESTIMATES / FUNDING SOURCESTOTAL
I-81 WIDENING FROM EXIT 140 TO 143Preliminary Engineering (PE)$7,524,092.00
Right-of-Way Acquisition (RW)$700,000.00
Construction (CN)$64,768,551.00
Six-Year Improvement Plan Allocations$0.00
Other Committed Funding Amount$0.00
Total Proposed Project Funding$72,992,643.00
HB2 Requested Funds$72,992,643.00

Project Description

  1. Addition of one lane NB and one lane SB on Interstate I-81 between Exits 140 & 143.
  2. Lanes will be 12′ wide with 10′ paved shoulders.
COST ESTIMATES / FUNDING SOURCESTOTAL
U.S. 220 COMMUNICATIONS AND ADAPTIVE SYSTEM PROJECTPreliminary Engineering (PE)$42,000.00
Right-of-Way Acquisition (RW)$0.00
Construction (CN)$380,500.00
Six-Year Improvement Plan Allocations$0.00
Other Committed Funding Amount$0.00
Total Proposed Project Funding$422,500.00
HB2 Requested Funds$422,500.00

Project Description

  1. U.S. 220 in the City of Roanoke at the intersection of U.S. 220 and Valley Ave./Southern Hills Dr. SW (Lowe’s) and terminates in Roanoke Co. at U.S. 220 and Clearbrook Village Ln. (Walmart). There are five signalized intersections within the study area.
  2. All intersections will be synchorinzed to allow better morning and afternoon peak traffic flows. New cameras will be installed at all five intersections allowing VDOT to remotely access the traffic volumes and view live traffic to monitor coordination on the corridor.
COST ESTIMATES / FUNDING SOURCESTOTAL
INTERCHANGE LIGHTING AT I-81 EXITS 137-150Preliminary Engineering (PE)$841,000.00
Right-of-Way Acquisition (RW)$0.00
Construction (CN)$7,569,000.00
Six-Year Improvement Plan Allocations$0.00
Other Committed Funding Amount$0.00
Total Proposed Project Funding$8,410,000.00
HB2 Requested Funds$8,410,000.00

Project Description

  1. This project seeks to light interchanges along I-81 beginning at Exit 137 and continuing with exits 140, 141, 143, 146, and 150. The project area is roughly 13 miles along I-81, and passes through Roanoke County, the City of Salem and Botetourt County.
COST ESTIMATES / FUNDING SOURCESTOTAL
ROANOKE RIVER GREENWAY–GREEN HILL PARK TO RIVERSIDE PARKPreliminary Engineering (PE)$785,000.00
Right-of-Way Acquisition (RW)$370,000.00
Construction (CN)$6,877,031.00
Six-Year Improvement Plan Allocations$3,489,926.00
Other Committed Funding Amount$0.00
Total Proposed Project Funding$8,032,031.00
HB2 Requested Funds$4,542,105.00

Project Description

  1. Construction of 1.875 miles of Roanoke River Greenway in Roanoke Co. and the City of Salem, from Green Hill Park upstream of Diuguids Lane to Riverside Park, downstream of Mill Lane.
  2. This section will include two 12′ bridges across the Roanoke River, a separated grade crossing at Diuguids Lane and an at-grade crossing at Mill Lane, where topography prevents a separated crossing.
COST ESTIMATES / FUNDING SOURCESTOTAL
I-81 AUXILIARY LANES EXIT 150 TO WEIGH STATION & RAMP EXTENSIONPreliminary Engineering (PE)$5,489,735.00
Right-of-Way Acquisition (RW)$1,832,530.00
Construction (CN)$40,422,324.00
Six-Year Improvement Plan Allocations$0.00
Other Committed Funding Amount$0.00
Total Proposed Project Funding$47,744,589.00
HB2 Requested Funds$47,744,589.00

Project Description

  1. Construct 12′ auxilary lanes NB and SB from Exit 150 to the truck weigh station, including bridge replacements over Tinker Creek.
  2. Construct an extended deceleration lane northbound into the weigh station; and construct an extended acceleration lane southbound out of the station.
  3. Establish a three-lane road, both NB and SB between Exit 150 and the weigh station, extending ramps south of the station.
  4. Provide additional capacity between Exit 150 and the station.

In the days since the application deadline, applications have undergone validation at the VDOT District, VDOT Central Office and screening through the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment (OIPI).  OIPI verifies that each candidate project meets at least one of four needs in VTrans2040, the Virginia Multimodal Transportation Plan.  Currently, all projects submitted by the RVTPO, for the exception of the I-81 Interchange Lighting project, have been forwarded to and successfully screened in by OIPI.  Once that verification process is complete, the candidate project is forwarded to a scoring panel of statewide transportation and public policy officials.  The scoring process will be ongoing this fall and into the beginning of 2016.  It is anticipated that the project award announcements will be made in January 2016.

Future posts will discuss the type and nature of HB2 projects submitted statewide and provide insights and impressions of this inaugural prioritization process.

RVARC, RVTPO and Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Announce a Joint Open House to Hear Public Comment on Regional Transportation Projects

On Thursday, September 17, 2015, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce will hold a joint open house from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. at Chamber offices located at 210 S. Jefferson St., Roanoke, VA 24011.

The public is invited to attend to provide input on urban and regional transportation projects that are being recommended for application to the Virginia Departments of Transportation and Rail and Public Transportation for competitive scoring.  The recommended projects, if approved, will be formally applied for by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission and the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization–two eligible applicant organizations.

For your convenience, please click here to provide input on projects being submitted by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.  Likewise, click here to provide input on transportation projects being submitted by the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization.

For more information, contact Bryan Hill at 540-343-4417 or by e-mail at bhill@rvarc.org.

Notice of a Public Hearing to Receive Comment on House Bill 2 Applications to be Submitted by the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization

 

The public is invited to review and comment on House Bill 2 applications to be submitted by the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO). A public hearing will be held during the RVTPO Policy Board Meeting to be held on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. at the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission office – Top Floor Conference Room (313 Luck Ave., SW, Roanoke, VA 24016). For questions or directions, contact Mark McCaskill at Ph: (540)343-4417, Fax: (540)343-4416, Email: mmccaskill@rvarc.org. The RVTPO strives to provide reasonable accommodations and services for persons who require special assistance to participate in public involvement opportunities. Hearing impaired may dial TTY/TDD at 1-800-828-1120 or 711 for access. The TIP development process satisfies the requirements for public participation in the development and adoption of the Transit Program of Projects. The RVTPO fully complies with Title VI of the Civic Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Discrimination Complaint Form, see http://rvarc.org/transportation/title-vi-and-ada-notices/ or call (540)343-4417.

Notice of a Public Hearing to Receive Comment on House Bill 2 Applications to be Submitted by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission

The public is invited to review and comment on House Bill 2 applications to be submitted by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC). A public hearing will be held during the Regional Commission Board Meeting to be held on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission office – Top Floor Conference Room (313 Luck Ave., SW, Roanoke, VA 24016). For questions or directions, contact Bryan Hill at Ph: (540)343-4417, Fax: (540)343-4416, Email: bhill@rvarc.org. The RVARC strives to provide reasonable accommodations and services for persons who require special assistance to participate in public involvement opportunities. Hearing impaired may dial TTY/TDD at 1-800-828-1120 or 711 for access. The RVARC fully complies with Title VI of the Civic Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Discrimination Complaint Form, see http://rvarc.org/transportation/title-vi-and-ada-notices/ or call (540)343-4417.

Volunteers Needed for 2015 National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project

The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO), with assistance from the Regional Bicycle Advisory Committee, is participating in the 2015 National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation (NBPD) Project. Volunteers are needed to conduct manual counts of bicyclists and pedestrians at locations throughout the RVTPO study area during specified time(s).

2015  NBPD Project Volunteer Sign Up Form

Official 2015 NBPD counts will be conducted at each location on one (1) weekday and one (1) weekend day as follows:

  • Thursday, September 17, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm (rain date if needed: Thursday, September 24, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm)
  • Saturday, September 19, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm (rain date if needed: Sunday, September 20,12:00 pm – 2:00 pm )

Each count period is 2 hours in duration, plus additional time to set up prior to conducting count (5 minutes or so). Volunteers will receive NBPD Project training and all requisite data collection materials (instructions, data collection sheets, pens, safety vest, etc.) prior to count date(s). Upon completion of the Volunteer Sign Up Form, the count manager will contact you, via email, to confirm your participation and provide training and related information. Volunteer Counters will be assigned a count location once confirmed.

ABOUT THE NBPD PROJECT
The NBPD Project, co-sponsored by Alta Planning and Design and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Pedestrian and Bicycle Council, is a nationwide effort to provide a consistent model of bicycle and pedestrian data collection for use by planners, governments, and bicycle and pedestrian professionals. 2012 was the initial year of RVTPO participation in the annual NBPD and will serve as the baseline data year for future NBPD comparisons. Additional information:
http://bikepeddocumentation.org.

How Coworking Spaces Benefit Transportation and Promote Economic Development!

CoLab provided by Ariel (1)Coworking spaces such as the Grandin CoLab allow small businesses and startups to pay a monthly fee in order to use shared space within the facility.  In many ways this is similar to an individual joining a fitness center.  This idea is that business startups and home (garage) based businesses get to a point where it is not useful from a professional image or branding perspective to invite clients, partners or investors to meetings over the kitchen table or out in the garage anymore.  A more polished business presence is needed in order to scale-up to the next level.  This describes a target market for coworking spaces, however, what is really going on under the hood from an economic development and transportation planning perspective?

Essentially coworking spaces allow members to share the high fixed-costs that are associated with a nice, well-done commercial space in a central commercial location in an urban area.  All businesses face two types of costs:  fixed and variable.  Startups may have heretofore dealt with fixed costs by running their business out of their home or garage.  However, when it comes to graduating to a commercial space, the high fixed costs can be daunting for a small business which may not be able to easily get conventional commercial financing.  Coworking spaces solve this dilemma beautifully with their membership model that shares fixed costs widely among many startups.  This allows for entrepreneurial business development that otherwise might have been stymied by high fixed costs thus developing the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Interestingly the observation that high fixed costs can have a dampening effect on entrepreneurialism and business creation dates back to the planning classic “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs  where she observed that one benefit of the so called “urban decay” of the 1960’s was that it kept rents (i.e. fixed costs) low so that small businesses would have a place to develop.  Thankfully, coworking spaces are the exact opposite of “urban decay” and can provide high end and urban edifying amenities that can be affordable due to shared fixed costs in a commercially viable urban setting.

Coworking spaces also provide “Economies of Agglomeration” which is a fancy way of saying the benefits that a business gets by being near other businesses.  This can can be thought of as crosspollination of ideas and/or as spillovers from businesses in close proximity being each other’s’ customers and suppliers.  Essentially co-working spaces produce internal economies of agglomeration within the one building.  And, the building itself can be located in a downtown or village center and member benefits can benefit from the next level of agglomeration effects that come from being in a mixed-use urban context.

As far as transportation is concerned it is precisely these agglomerating and concentrating effects of coworking spaces that encourage businesses to locate in urban areas where transportation already exists.  This is in stark contrast to situations in the past where businesses would sprawl out further and further looking for cheaper rent.  Also, the new transportation services such as car sharing, think Zipcar, ridesharing, or vanpooling which also benefit from users sharing the fixed costs of vehicle ownership are good complements to the coworking model.  Such services as well as public transportation can be conveniently located nearby.  Any dollar that an entrepreneur saves on transportation costs can be plowed back into growing their business.

Disclaimer – In this blog post I have specifically referred to a successful coworking space in Roanoke, Virginia called the Grandin CoLab (http://www.grandincolab.com/).  The concepts are generalizable and would apply to any coworking environment.  This post is not a public sector endorsement of one particular private coworking environment over any other.CoLab provided by Ariel (2)

CoLab provided by Ariel (3)