Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission News
RVTPO Explores Ways to Keep the Valley Congestion Free
The Roanoke Valley doesn’t have much severe traffic congestion – and we want to keep it that way! The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) is updating the region’s Congestion Management Process. Learn more about it and take a brief survey here (

Please take the survey and share it with others in your organizations who might be interested.

For more information contact Rachel Ruhlen at
Commission Staff Hold Two Rural Bikeway Plan Public Meetings
The Regional Commission is updating the 2006 Rural Bikeway Plan. Last week, Commission staff held two public input meetings, one at Just the Right Gear in Catawba and the other at Jack Mason’s Brewing in Clifton Forge, to capture cyclist’s preferred routes and chief concerns in the study area. This Friday, the public will get one more chance to chime in on this phase of the plan. Visit Downshift in downtown Roanoke from 5pm to 7 pm on Friday, January 31 st to let us know what on-road routes you cycle in the rural service area!
Regional Population Growth Slows
According to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, which estimates population for localities every year, Virginia’s population growth has slowed over the last decade. The current data reflect that the growth rate in Virginia is slower than the nation’s rate. The primary reason for the slower growth is out-migration. An aging population has also contributed to the slower growth, especially in more rural areas, which have seen population decline. In our region, half of the localities experienced population decline from 2010 to 2019. Roanoke City and Salem City grew over two percent over the last decade.  The RVARC region grew 1.2%, or by 2,628 people since 2010. The 2020 Census, which will take place on April 1, will give a more accurate picture of demographic changes, but the data will not be available until next year. 
Regional Commission Updates Title VI
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) is committed to ensuring that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, or age be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity for which RVARC receives Federal financial assistance as required by Title VI. The RVARC approved an updated Title VI Implementation Plan in November and the RVTPO approved it in December. 
Survey on Surface Transportation Block Grant Funding
Most transportation funding is either local (primarily for maintenance) or state/federal (competing statewide or district wide). The Roanoke Valley receives a small, set amount of regional funding, the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG). We want to know how YOU think we should invest STBG among 13 candidate projects. Take the STBG survey HERE.
RVTPO Policy Board Approves of Widening I-81
On January 23, the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) Policy Board approved the use of approximately $615 Million for I-81 widening projects between Mile Marker 136 to 141 and Mile Marker 144 to Exit 150. The RVTPO’s long-range plan, Vision 2040: Roanoke Valley Transportation, and the FY18-21 Transportation Improvement Program were amended to reflect these investments to upgrade the Roanoke Valley’s transportation system.
Gross Domestic Product Increases Across Region
Gross domestic product is the total value of goods and services produced in an area. Typically, we hear about GDP in terms of national economies, but the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis tracks GDP at the county level as well. The data can be used to measure the growth of local economies and as a comparative tool. According to the BEA, 2,375 counties increased their GDP in 2018 and 717 had a decrease in GDP. In our region, all localities or regions had an increase in GDP, with Botetourt County and the Alleghany highlands outperforming the state and national growth rates. 
Broadband News
Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Updates
The RVBA is working with Botetourt County to build a co-location center at Greenfield. The center will serve as a hub to allow local and non-local companies to store and transmit data in a secure and reliable environment. Over the past year, RVBA has also worked with BRiSCNET and MtnNet who are offering wireless services to parts of the Roanoke region. 

Franklin County Receives Broadband Funding through Virginia’s Telecommunication Initiative  
Franklin County recently received $2,383,039 of funding which enable private broadband providers Briscnet and Shentel to provide wireless and fiber services to unserved parts of Franklin County. In all 12 projects were funded across the Commonwealth. Botetourt County and the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative received funding in 2019. Virginia’s Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and focuses on areas of the State that do not have broadband service. Governor Northam proposed budget and introduced amendments introduced in the General Assembly session seek increase funding by $16-$51 million and make broadband authorities and other public bodies eligible to receive funding. 

USDA Announces Second Round of USDA ReConnect Program; $550 Million in Funding Available to Deploy Broadband in Rural Communities 
The USDA announced the availability of a second round of $550 million in USDA ReConnect Pilot Program funding. The application window for this round of funding will open on January 31, 2020. USDA will make up to $200 million available in grants; up to $200 million available in low-interest loans; and up to $200 million in 50/50 grant/loan combination funds. Through the ReConnect Program, the federal government partners with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient coverage. The first round of funding saw a $48 million dollar loan go to the Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation to construct fiber in parts of Central Virginia. (Source: NADO.ORG, 2020)

Congressional Research Service Releases Report on Rural Broadband Access  
The Congressional Research Service has published a new report, Demand for Broadband in Rural Areas: Implications for Universal Access. The report profiles the rural broadband market—specifically, the characteristics of demand in rural households and small businesses, and how these affect private sector infrastructure investments. A survey of federal broadband programs and policies designed to spur broadband buildout and adoption is included, with a discussion of how demand-side issues may impede achievement of these goals.  (Source: NADO.ORG, 2020)
Ongoing Projects
The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission is always working with localities on projects that benefit the region. Some of these projects are listed below.

  • Craig County Community Resource Center Planning grant
  • Alleghany Highlands Trail and Greenway Inventory
  • Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy 5-Year Update
  • Regional Housing Study: Franklin and Roanoke Counties, and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem
  • Stormwater Assistance
  • Vinton Zoning Assistance
  • Working on promotion and access improvements for the Roanoke River Blueway
  • Working with the regional local foods partners to examine "Food Hub" needs in the region

For more information on ongoing projects contact  Tim Pohlad-Thomas   or visit .