Rural Transportation Reform
SVN promotes changes in federal, state and local road funding priorities to shift from costly and destructive loop roads, which fragment rural lands and foster sprawl development, to more efficient, affordable improvements to existing road networks.
Both the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission are completing rural road plans as required by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
SVN and its member group, Rockingham Community Alliance for Preservation (CAP) offered comments to the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission on the Phase II Summary Report for VDOT's Rural Long Range Transportation Plan.
The June, 2008 letter identifies several concerns with the plan and proposes potential solutions, including:
- Even though traffic counts are declining on a statewide level due to high fuel prices, the Phase II planning projections are based on historic traffic counts. The plan should be revised to divulge the traffic data used. If data from the last 18 months is not included, the projections should be revised on the basis of the most recent data that reflects the impact of higher fuel prices on traffic patterns.
- Decisions in Phase II about what to study in greater depth in Phase III are based upon "anecdotal information." Phase II should be revised to reflect a concrete analysis based on this kind of data with sites ranked by objective measures.
- There is no analysis of the potential impacts of improvements to rural road sites with significant natural, historic or cultural resources nor any recommendations for addressing those impacts in Phase III planning.Due to the highly sensitive resources at sites selected for further study, we recommend that the Phase III study employ all of the tools of the Context Sensitive Solutions approach to road planning.
The letter concludes, "Due to the significant impact of rising fuel costs, the Rural Roads Study should also consider additional options beyond road improvements to meet future transportation needs."