Regional Study on Transportation Project Prioritization for Economic Development and Growth

One of the more pertinent planning objectives of the Vision 2040: Roanoke Valley Transportation in conjunction with the Partnership for a Livable Roanoke Valley Plan is that the “The RVTPO will continue to facilitate strategic collaboration to identify and prioritize investment in projects that will advance regional economic goals.” This refers to the policies and actions that promote economic goals within the Roanoke Valley. Within many urbanized regions, transportation infrastructure represents a shared input that can be used by large numbers of companies in their respective production process and overall economic competitiveness. This same infrastructure can also increase access to skilled labor, thus increasing the returns to companies in the Valley.

Regions across the U.S. vary noticeably in terms of the prosperity levels that their population can enjoy. Competitive regions provide conditions under which companies can compete successfully on local statewide, and national markets while paying wages that can support a high standard of living to citizens. In keeping with this notion, planning agencies, transportation and economic development consultants alike, across the country, have renewed their focus on fostering regional economic development through transportation improvements.

Therefore, in keeping with the adoption of the Vision 2040:Roanoke Valley Transportation Plan, VTrans – Virginia’s Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan, and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2017 Annual Update, with the assistance of Economic Development Research Group (EDR) and Transportation for America, the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization has conducted a Regional Study on Transportation Project Prioritization for Economic Development and Growth Report.

The study, which took a total of nine months to complete and was approved by the RVTPO Policy Board on April 26, 2018, addresses a number of interrelated goals:

  • Understanding the nexus between strategic transportation improvements and economic development,
  • Identifying pertinent transportation needs in the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany region, highlighting regional economic trends and conditions,
  • Establishing transportation objectives and strategies that support economic development, and
  • Identifying a list of 5-10 transportation projects within the area that could advance regional economic objectives

By far, the purpose of the study is to create the foundation by which the region can focus its efforts in promoting overall regional competitiveness through transportation improvements. The reality is that transportation improvements can have wide ranging effects on a region’s economy, including increased productivity, enhanced supply chain efficiency, and increased access to labor markets. The study ultimately seeks to highlight how strategic investment can change a region’s overall behavior and can ensure a transportation project’s higher probability of return in terms of productivity and competitiveness.