Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board shares plans for transportation developments

By Alison Wickline - Reporter
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Virginia residents Thursday night were able to voice their ideas on ways transportation can improve at a Commonwealth Transportation Board public meeting. 

Salem resident David Foster shared his opinion. "Personally, I would like to see light rail between Roanoke and the New River Valley. I think the two valleys have a lot in common."

The meeting gave residents and local officials the chance to learn more about various transportation projects and Virginia's project prioritization process, known as Smart Scale. 

Transportation officials discussed the success of the new roundabout at Exit 150 and the work being done to improve I-81, which is a big issue, according to Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Lane.

"Tonight is all about citizens and localities having an opportunity to engage with our transportation board and share their feelings about the projects that are either on the table, or projects that they feel should be funded in the future," said VDOT spokesperson Jen Ward.

Amtrak's entrance into the Roanoke Valley was highlighted during the meeting. There was also a mention of a new inner-city bus service pilot program that may begin in Blacksburg. 

"We're long past the time when more lanes of highway will eliminate every problem of congestion and growth," said Foster. "It needs a multi-modal focus where they have bike lanes and greenways and rail transit." 

During the meeting, Lane said big-ticket road projects like adding lanes to I-81 demand funding sources beyond the state's current transportation budget.

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