Maintaining the current transportation system and preparing for future transportation needs involves considerable planning. To prepare, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) develops a regional blueprint, or Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to help guide transportation investments in order to promote system efficiency as well as to maximize the use of scarce transportation resources. Additionally, the LRTP is updated on a regular basis in order to assess the current transportation system as well as reflect changing conditions such as new planning priorities, population and employment projections, changes in the economy, and anticipated travel demand.
Over the last two years, HRTPO staff has been developing the next LRTP, entitled Navigating the Future to 2040. To update the LRTP, HRTPO staff assesses the current transportation system to determine the condition of roadways, bridges and tunnels, congestion issues, safety issues, etc. HRTPO staff also examines how the region may develop over the next twenty years based upon projected population and employment growth. Changes in growth can impact demand on the regional transportation system, therefore future plans must consider alternatives to effectively address these needs. Once alternatives are determined, funds are identified to pay for the projects, which can include new or widened roadways as well as new or expanded transit services. This entire process takes approximately four years to complete and requires regional cooperation and public participation.
To date, future population and employment estimates for each Hampton Roads locality for the year 2040 have been developed. These projections have been refined to smaller geographic areas within each jurisdiction, known as Transportation Analysis Zones (TAZs) to show where this anticipated growth will occur and how this growth may impact the transportation system.
Additionally, the HRTPO conducted a web-based public surveybetween October and December 2012 in an effort to gather public input regarding regional priorities and concerns to help define the vision and goals for the 2040 LRTP. Survey respondents were also asked to identify potential transportation projects needed around the region. The survey was distributed via email, social media, regional libraries, city and county websites, other planning agency websites, and through several community events across the region; additionally, a wide spectrum of local civic and community organizations participated in the survey, including senior and youth groups, emergency management organizations, transit agencies, bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups, etc. Over the three months the survey was active, approximately 1,800 responses were collected from across the region.
Although transportation planning was the primary motivation for the survey, questions relating to quality of life issues in Hampton Roads were also posed. Survey respondents chose “Reducing Highway Congestion” as the most important issue facing the region, followed by “Building and Maintaining a Competitive Regional Economy.” Top transportation problems survey respondents are concerned with include “Traffic Congestion,” “Poor Pavement Condition,” and “Lack of Public Transportation.” As far as effective ways to reduce transportation congestion in the region, survey respondents chose “Expanding the Transit System” followed by “Providing Additional Passenger Rail Service between Metro Areas.”
HRTPO staff utilized common themes from survey responses along with additional regional stakeholder input, comprehensive plans form localities, MAP-21 federal planning factors, and the state’s VTrans 2035 guidelines to help establish the regional vision and goals for the 2040 LRTP.
The next step in the development of the 2040 LRTP will be to evaluate and prioritize candidate transportation projects, as was done for the current 2034 LRTP, using the HRTPO Project Prioritization Tool. A draft list of approximately 200 candidate projects has been developed using potential transportation projects submitted by survey respondents as well as additional candidate projects collected from various regional stakeholders. In the end, alternatives from this candidate list of projects will help to achieve the overall goal of the 2040 LRTP in developing a well-balanced transportation system that remains accessible to all and promotes good quality of life while enhancing the unique character of Hampton Roads. The public’s continued participation in the development of the LRTP is essential in achieving this goal. Stay tuned as we develop the region’s next Long-Range Transportation Plan.
Article courtesy of HRTPO