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VDOT Provides Reliable Transportation Network That Strengthens the Region

John Putney

The Director of Government Relations for LRBA staffs the Lynchburg Regional Transportation Advocacy Group (LRTAG), a subsidiary/affiliate entity of the Alliance that represents the area’s major employers and other industries to promote our region’s transportation network.  Alliance members specifically and greater Lynchburg region residents in general who care about the success of their business, the region’s economy, and the quality of their lives will appreciate and benefit from the advocacy work this organization does in support of all forms of transportation.

Most recently in preparation for the April 29 Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) / Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) public hearing, LRTAG convened another virtual meeting with dozens of transportation advocates from local and state government, private industry, higher education, etc. to discuss the region’s current Six-Year Plan projects, 2021 General Assembly transportation-specific legislative and budgetary action, and to plan LRTAG’s participation in the aforementioned VDOT/CTB meeting.

Without question, this two-hour-plus planning meeting proved invaluable.  Being able to speak with and hear from both the professionals at VDOT as well as the decision-makers in Richmond educates LRTAG at both a high and granular level.  This, in turn, allows our group to create and refine the message it delivers to the powers that be.  It ensures that LRTAG speaks with an informed and unified voice.  And perhaps more importantly, it helps ensure we adhere to the public comment three-minute time limit.

More specifically it allows Alliance leadership – CEO Megan Lucas and LRTAG Chairman Robert O’Brian – to speak respectfully but resolutely on behalf of business. In addition to advocating for our transportation priorities, this meeting affords LRTAG the opportunity to both commend and thank, among others:  Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, Director of VA DRPT Jennifer Mitchell, Commonwealth Transportation Board representative Bert Dodson (Lynchburg District), Lynchburg District Engineer Chris Winstead, and Lynchburg District Planning Manager Rick Youngblood.

For a sense of what our advocates actually stated on your behalf, below are excerpts from public remarks delivered by Megan Lucas and Robert O’Brian at the April 29, 2021 Six-Year Plan public meeting.  Should you wish to view the approximate one-hour long public hearing, you can access that archived video at VDOT’s YouTube page here.

 

Megan Lucas, CEO Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance -

“Prior to the pandemic, LRTAG regularly convened in-person work sessions with transportation advocates from across the region.  As both CTB and VDOT have done, LRTAG has shifted those meetings to an online platform.  We have conducted those meetings as well – all with the purpose and goal of continuing to support the Lynchburg region’s transportation initiatives.

As Secretary Valentine, CTB members, VDOT folks, and everyone on this virtual call understand:  the business community in this region relies on a viable, sustainable, and equitably funded transportation network for the success of their businesses and the strength of this region’s overall economy.  We appreciate the ongoing support we have received from the Commonwealth, but particularly the strong support in this latest round of funding.  Our regional coalition is unified in its continued support for the projects submitted to you for funding consideration this round.

 I thank you for being able to address you today and thank you as well for all the consideration and support Secretary Valentine, Commonwealth Transportation Board and VDOT have shown the Lynchburg region and our transportation priorities.”

  

Robert O’Brian, LRTAG Chair -

 “Secretary Valentine, we want to thank you personally for joining us today for this public comment period.  Of course, we want to do likewise to members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board as well as the good folks at VDOT.  Our group remains grateful for the work you all do to study, vet, and fund transportation projects in both the commonwealth and our region.  We know this is challenging, time-consuming work; however, it is crucially important, and it should not go unrecognized.

 In fact, all of you deserve even more gratitude and recognition from the public given what the Secretary’s office, VDOT, CTB, and the General Assembly have had to do during the throes of the pandemic.  From LRTAG’s vantage point, you all made several prudent funding and policy decisions in a volatile time to continue to build off the many recent transportation successes.  So, again, we appreciate your efforts.

As others from the Lynchburg region have stated previously and others will do after I speak, I am here to reiterate LRTAG’s strong support for the Lynchburg region’s transportation priorities.  We view each of these projects as extremely beneficial and do so for a multitude of reasons, but principally because they will improve roadway capacity and safety and are significant long-term economic drivers for the entire region. 

I would be remiss if I did not allude to two of the most important projects in our region: The Route 29 Corridor – Access Management and the Candler’s Mountain Road Interchange Improvement projects.  From the business community’s perspective, the Commonwealth’s investments in these two initiatives stand to make transformative improvements in key areas of one of our region’s priority transportation corridors.  

The dozens of transportation advocates on LRTAG and I realize CTB has tough decisions to make. We know there are thousands of legitimate projects in the Commonwealth and the resources are limited.  The process is competitive, to say the least.  We understand that completely.  As such, we want to thank you for your previous support for the Lynchburg region’s submissions.  We know this body will give all due consideration to those qualifying projects currently before you as well as LRTAG’s future priorities.   Thank you again for your time and consideration.”