Trail Activities in the West Piedmont Planning District

Last week’s blog focused on the Danville Riverwalk Trail, and the plans for its extension.  This week’s blog entry will touch on other trail extension initiatives around the West Piedmont Planning District.  Our region is ideally suited to outdoor recreation, and a network of multi-use trails serves as an asset to facilitate recreational pursuits, as well as to promote public health and economic development.

Trail expansion activities in the West Piedmont Planning District include the following:

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Smart Scale Funded Projects in the West Piedmont Planning District

Last week’s blog was about Smart Scale applications submitted in 2018, which have been recommended for funding.  This week’s blog will cover those Smart Scale projects within the West Piedmont Planning District which have been funded during past rounds and are currently scheduled for funding via the State’s Six Year Improvement Program.  As noted last week, Smart Scale is a relatively recent data-driven funding mechanism which ranks projects based on factors including safety, economic development, accessibility, congestion mitigation, and environmental impact; land use is another more

Preliminary Smart Scale Scores Released for Regional Transportation Projects

On January 15th, the Commonwealth of Virginia released draft Smart Scale scores for transportation grant applications submitted in July and August by localities and regional entities such as the Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization.  The release of these draft scores serves as an initial step in the determination of funding for transportation projects throughout Virginia.

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How Does West Piedmont Get to Work?

Each locality is home to individuals who travel to work, and each person has his or her own way of commuting to their place of employment.  The West Piedmont Planning District (WPPD) is very similar to the State as well as to the U.S. with regard to the modes of transportation residents utilize to get to work, but with some differences.

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A Short Primer on Transit Advocacy

Potential changes in Roanoke-area transit have been in the news recently, from rate increases at Valley Metro to route changes in Vinton.  Regardless of where you fall on these issues, this is a prime opportunity to become involved in the future of the Valley’s public transportation network.  We offer this brief primer on what you need to know and how you can be the most effective.

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Delaying the Rocky Mount Bus – For Now

The same financial problems besetting every local government have caused Rocky Mount to reconsider implementing commuter bus service to Roanoke.  Considerations other than weak revenues influenced the decision, though:

The drop in gasoline prices was also another reason that the proposed commuter service is on the back burner now, [Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins] told the town’s planning commission Tuesday.

When the bus service was proposed last year, gas prices were high, he said. With the decrease in gasoline prices,  Hankins said, the proposal for bus service has a lower priority.

‘I expect it will come up again,” he said, “if gas prices go back up.”

I think “when gas prices go back up” is more likely than “if,” and I would encourage Mr. Hankins and the rest of the Rocky Mount leadership to keep the commuter bus plan handy.  When the economy recovers and, with it, local government revenues, so will gas prices.

During the skyrocketing gas price increases in the spring and summer of 2008, RIDE Solutions saw its largest percentage increase of new carpoolers come from the Rocky Mount and Franklin County area.  Those folks have remained active in the database despite the drop in prices; when gas spikes again, the commuters of Franklin County and Rocky Mount would be well served by their leaders’ ability to move swiftly on establishing an affordable option.