The latest on the programs and projects of
the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission.
Around the Region
 April 2019
50 Years of Transportation Planning

When Planning Districts formed in 1969, the highway system in the central Shenandoah Valley was just beginning to resemble what we know today. The last segment of Interstate 81 to be constructed in the CSPDC region, from Stuarts Draft to Harrisonburg, opened that same year. Interstate 64 from Staunton to Afton Mountain was completed shortly after in 1971.  The completion of the interstate network brought the expansion of highway trucking that transformed the national economy, and set in motion a trend that is still being concentrated on today.

With the region's increase in population and industry along the spines of I-81 and I-64, the CSPDC created its first Transportation Planning Program in 1971. This established a two-year plan to inventory and analyze the transportation network, and develop recommendations for new projects. 

Over the last 50 years, the CSPDC region has evolved from being mostly rural, dotted with small cities and towns, to a region with two metropolitan planning areas, seven institutions of higher learning, two regional medical centers, three public transit systems, and a busy regional airport. The PDC has worked with the state and localities to develop corridor and access management plans, write grant applications for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, develop regional long range plans, and is still the only Planning District to form and administer two Metropolitan Planning Organizations and operate a public transit system. Today the region's transportation investments are multi-modal, but still focus on the goals of improving safety, supporting economic development, and ensuring access to jobs and services.
CSPDC Receives FEMA Funds to Update Hazard Mitigation Plan
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management received $3,017,393 in pre- and post-disaster mitigation grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A portion of the awarded funds will go to the CSPDC to update the Central Shenandoah Valley All Hazards Mitigation Plan. The total cost of the Plan update is $101,385. FEMA will provide 75%, the State will provide 20%, and the CSPDC will provide the remaining 5% of the matched funds.
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K) requires that local governments develop and adopt Hazard Mitigation Plans that are updated every five years in order to receive hazard mitigation grant funds. The updated Central Shenandoah Valley All Hazards Mitigation Plan, originally approved in 2006 and last updated in 2013, is now anticipated to be adopted by the 21 jurisdictions in the Central Shenandoah Planning District in the winter of 2020.  The planning process will kick off this month at a meeting of appointed representatives of each of the jurisdictions and other interested organizations and stakeholders. 
Shep Rouse from Rockbridge Vineyard. Picture by Joe Link.
John Deere Publication, The Furrow, Highlights Fields of Gold 

Fields of Gold Farm Trail members Laurel Fork Sapsuckers, Meadow Croft Farm, Mountain View Farm, Rockbridge Vineyards, and Showalter's Orchard were featured among other Shenandoah Valley farmers in The Furrow's March 2019 issue. 

The Furrow is the United State's edition of the worldwide farm magazine published in 12 languages by John Deere & Company and its subsidiaries. The article entitled Oh Shenandoah; A place where farmers gladly welcome visitors  discusses the region's agricultural heritage, product diversity and the Fields of Gold Farm Trail program. The publication i s sent as a courtesy to over 50,000 John Deere equipment owners across the country. 
I-81 Improvement Program

On March 26, 2019, Governor Ralph Northam introduced substantial amendments to the I-81 Improvement Program bills to fund improvements to the interstate corridor. The bills came out of committee in January stripped of language to fund the improvements via tolling on I-81. Governor Northam's amendments proposed funding $151 million per year in improvements to I-81, as well as smaller amounts of funding for other interstate corridors around the state, through increased tractor-trailer registration fees, increases in the state diesel tax, an increase in the wholesale motor fuels tax along the I-81 corridor, and an increase in the road tax that trucks pay to travel the corridor.
During the Wednesday, April 3, 2019 Veto Session, the House of Delegates approved the Governor's amendments 58-39. The Senate approved the truck registration fee increase 25-13 and the fuels tax increases 22-14. With the passage of the amended bills in both houses, the State will be able to issue bonds and begin the process of selecting the first projects from the I-81 Improvement Plan to construct. The CSPDC Board Chair will continue to be a member of the I-81 Improvement Program Committee, which will advise the Commonwealth Transportation Board on the prioritization of projects up and down the corridor.  

GO Virginia Region 8 Holds Project Pipeline Summits 
The GO Virginia Region 8 Council recently launched its first, annual "Call for Projects" to identify and prioritize projects for the Fiscal Year 2020 that cultivate new jobs and opportunities across the Shenandoah Valley. 

To begin the project prioritization process, Region 8 held two GO Virginia summit meetings at Lord Fairfax Community College and Blue Ridge Community College on March 13 and 14. Nearly 80 local, regional, education, and non-profit partners convened to generate two extensive lists of potential project opportunities. Following the summits, the Region 8 Council invited organizations to submit project ideas by completing and submitting Project Abstracts. The outcomes of the collective brainstorming sessions have been captured and compiled under each of the four GO Virginia frameworks: Workforce Development, Start-Ups/Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Site Development, and Business Scale-up & Commercialization. The Region 8 Council will discuss these project ideas at their April 23 meeting. 
VAPDC Directors at U.S. Capital
CSPDC Director Attends DDAA-NADO Conference in D.C. 

The Development District Association of Appalachia (DDAA) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) held its joint 2019 Washington DC conference last month. CSPDC Executive Director Bonnie Riedesel along with 500 other local development directors from around the country attended the annual conference in Arlington.

The conference offered an opportunity for DDAA and NADO members to come to the Nation's Capital to gain valuable insight into national issues and learn about new federal policy priorities, while still focusing on building strong regional economies and communities back home. The three main topic areas that were covered at the conference included rural broadband, entrepreneurship, and substance abuse and its impact on the workforce.

While there, a group of Virginia PDC directors, VAPDC president and VAPDC Director met with several of Virginia's congressional staff and legislative aides at the Capital. This meeting was an opportunity to highlight some of the projects and programs in the PDC regions and leverage future federal investments and support for these programs.

DCR Greenways &  Trails Conference Held

CSPDC staff led a panel session at the 2019 Virginia Greenways and Trails Conference in Richmond on April 8-10 to highlight capacity-building for outdoor recreation in the Shenandoah Valley. CSPDC Transportation Program Manager, Ann Cundy presented with  Buena Vista Economic Development Director, Rachel Moore, and Don Hindman of Woodstock, Virginia on three different initiatives: The Rockbridge Area Outdoor Partnership and Braiding the Way planning process, the annual Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bike Walk Summit, and the Shenandoah Valley Rails to Trails Exploratory Committee.
Chesapeake Bay WIP III Planning Continues 

Additional funding has been granted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and 14 other Bay PDC's to continue the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan efforts over the next seven months. The new funds will continue the momentum of operations and discussions with local governments and stakeholders on how to implement watershed best management practices in the region. 

The State is expected to submit a draft WIP III Plan to the Environmental Protection Agency in April 2019 that will ensure pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay are in place no later than 2025. The final WIP III Plan will be submitted in August 2019.
Pre-Applications for TAP Due: 
May 15-July 1
The Transportation Alternatives Program, which funds bicycle, pedestrian, and Safe Routes to School projects, will now require pre-applications to be submitted prior to final applications for the next round of TAP funding. Mandatory pre-applications will be accepted between May 15 and July 1, 2019. Final applications are due by October 1, 2019. 

VDOT is holding Transportation Alternatives Program application workshops for localities that are interested in applying for funding. The workshops will review program eligibility, application process, and scoring criteria. CSPDC localities are encouraged to attend the workshop scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 at 10:00 am at the VDOT Culpepper District Office. CSPDC staff are also available to assist with writing and submitting TAP applications. 
Virginia Outdoor Plan Available Online 
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is pleased to announce that the 2018 Virginia Outdoors Plan  is now posted and available on their website. 

The Virginia Outdoors Plan is the state's comprehensive plan for land conservation, outdoor recreation and open-space planning. The document helps all levels of government and the private sector meet needs pertaining to these matters. 

The Plan is required for Virginia to participate in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program. In addition, it provides guidance for the protection of lands through the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. The Plan is divided into chapters by Planning District regions; the Central Shenandoah region chapter begins on 13.33. 
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