Lynchburg leaders pushing for transportation improvements, despite resource challenges

Revenue for new projects statewide has dropped in recent years

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Lynchburg leaders are pushing for transportation improvements, but there are some roadblocks in the way.

The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance held a regional summit Tuesday morning where transportation was the hot topic.

This was the first summit of its kind, bringing together elected local and state officials, VDOT and local businesses to talk about the challenges that lie ahead.

"What else do you want to see? How do we engage the right people in these conversations to continue to improve transportation?" said Christine Kennedy, COO of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.

Kennedy says that transportation is a key part of economic development.

"The more you are connected as a region, the more access you have in and out, the more connected communities are, the more you attract the right people and the right companies," Kennedy said.

Summit attendees gave input on VDOT's 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan. They discussed priorities including air and rail service, road safety, and reliable public transit.

The reliability is public transit is huge for people such as Lynchburg native Damon Carwell, who rides the bus every day

"Anywhere downtown. Anywhere in the city. The mall," he said.

He says a lot of people in the region rely on public transportation, and there's room for improvement.

"It's nice to have more routes and stuff. It'd be nice if it came back on Sundays."

Virginia's Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Nicholas Donohue, says finding money down the road will be the biggest roadblock.

Revenue for new projects statewide has dropped 45 percent over the last several years.

"The needs dramatically outpace the resources, so we're trying to work to make the most cost-effective improvements," Donohue said.

Lynchburg resident Deborah James is hoping for change.

"Fix 'em up, stop talking. Talk a good game, just fix 'em," James said.

Because whether they drive a car, take a train, a plane or ride the bus, "people need to get around, you know?" Carwell said.




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