Rural Transportation Planning Program

Blue Ridge ParkwayA major focus of the West Piedmont Planning District Commission’s (WPPDC) activities is rural transportation planning, which covers all areas of the region outside of the Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The WPPDC performs many rural transportation functions, with the overarching goal of promoting a safe, reliable, and multimodal transportation system which contributes to economic development, employment growth, and a greater quality of life throughout the region.

Planned transportation projects cannot be funded by the State of Virginia unless they are included in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT’s) Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP), which serves as a funding schedule spanning a six year time period.  To do this, the WPPDC advocates on behalf of the Planning District’s localities to promote transportation projects at Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) public hearings and provides technical support to localities during the Smart Scale transportation funding application process. The WPPDC is eligible to submit certain Smart Scale applications as well.

The PDC provides a variety of other services in support of the rural transportation program at the local and regional levels.  Many of these services encompass general technical assistance to localities such as conducting traffic counts, facilitating “field visits” to help jurisdictions identify transportation deficiencies within their transportation networks and formulate potential solutions, and conducting sidewalk inventories to identify pedestrian infrastructure availability and needs, to name a few.  On a more regional level, the WPPDC collaborates with other organizations to promote district-wide transportation services such as providing input for periodic updates to the regional Coordinated Human Services Mobility (CHSM) Plan to enhance transportation options for older individuals and those with disabilities.  Along with the West Piedmont Health District, the WPPDC leads a regional Complete Streets initiative, through which bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is encouraged in order to promote a more multimodal transportation system throughout the region which can improve public health.  The WPPDC also routinely conducts reviews of draft plans generated by state and federal transportation agencies and provides pertinent input.

In 2011, the PDC in conjunction with VDOT and on-call consultants developed the Regional Rural Long-Range Transportation Plan to identify “hot spots” or problem areas for improvement of deficient road conditions and viable transportation projects. Staff is currently working with VDOT and a committee of regional stakeholders to update this plan, which should be completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020. The PDC develops a Rural Transportation Work Program annually and works with the Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC) and the Transportation Citizens Advisory Committee/PDC Technical Advisory Committee on planning issues regarding rural transportation.