VDOT just completed a series of public hearings for their draft 2015-20 Six-Year Improvement Program.
Our Executive Director David Foster attended the hearing in Roanoke, VA and submitted this statement from RAIL Solution.
VDOT 6-YR plan-2014 (PDF)
He reported his experience at the meeting:
In the 10 years or so I have been attending such sessions, it is the only time I can recall that there were six persons present, including the Sec’y of Trans. plus the heads of both VDOT and DRPT. This is a good sign, as well as the newly appointed CTB members from this area.
I got to the meeting a hour early at 5 pm, and already 19 people had registered ahead of me to speak, also unprecedented in my experience. Usually the hour gets me a spot among the first three.
When it finally came to me to address the panel, I spoke extemporaneously urging the panel to use the next four years to build on the premise of HB-2, just passed, and embrace truly multi-modal transportation planning. I said that by working together we can “walk the talk” and do a much better job for Virginia’s taxpayers, who have so long been victims of massive, unwanted highway projects.
While waiting to speak I had a chance to study the Salem District Six Year Plan draft document that was available at the registration table. I was gratified to see that work on Interstate 81, while including lots of paving, bridge replacements, guardrail and drainage projects, no longer includes any funding for widening the road to 8-12 lanes throughout the Roanoke Valley between Exits 118 & 150, aka Segment of Independent Utility #4. The remaining NEPA study funding, carried over from last year, is shown, but the construction funding previously shown in FY 2015-2019 has all be zeroed out. The Scope of Work now reads “Environmental Only”. RAIL Solution has appeared and opposed this work aggressively at all previous opportunities, so perhaps this can be counted, at least for now, as a win.
Hopefully the current Virginia government will find their way to get “on track.”