Spring 2010    Issue 2
TJPDC E-News is issued on a quarterly basis to keep you informed about the programs and projects at the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. Please feel free to send comments and suggestions to: info@tjpdc.org. If you have difficulty viewing this format click here

 In this issue:  

 

Energy Grant Awarded to TJPDC

The Virginia Department of Mines, Mineral and Energy (DMME) approved TJPDC’s regional application to establish a revolving loan fund for heat pump upgrades. The funds were awarded from $9.2 million in competitive grants being made available through the DMME from the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Participating localities in the “HOME Consortium Heat Pump Revolving Loan Fund” are Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson Counties. The requested amount of $199,980 was awarded, with $54,000 of local leveraged funding required (which will be provided by the HOME Consortium member serving each of the four counties). The grant period runs through June 2011. A total of 36 households will benefit by replacing inefficient units near the end of their useful life with new, high efficiency 16 SEER heat pumps, resulting in a 54% increase in efficiency, reducing electric usage by 25% per household, thus saving the consumer an average of $50 per month. All repaid and recaptured EECBG funds will be returned to the loan fund for use toward additional heat pump replacement projects beyond the end of the grant. For additional information, contact Billie Campbell at bcampbell@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x230.


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Regional Broadband Application Submitted

In March, 2009, the TJPDC cited the lack of universal broadband internet access as one of the most important issues facing the region and pledged its support for seeking funds for broadband projects. Over the course of the past year, TJPDC has been leading an effort to seek Broadband Infrastructure funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the unserved areas of the region. In coordination with TJPDC, DigitalBridge Communications of Ashburn, Virginia, submitted an application for funding on March 29. DBC’s application for TJPDC includes the following elements:

  • A $13.7 million capital investment to deploy 46 sites across the region Broadband coverage for over 110,000 people, 8,622 businesses, and 141 anchor institutions
  • Delivery of affordable, fourth generation broadband services (i.e., speeds of 2-4 Mbps now with  a roadmap to 12 Mbps, and prices starting at $29.99)
  • Deployment within nine months of funding award
  • A minimum of 32 local jobs created
  • Free broadband service to all libraries in the coverage area and 25% off for all other anchor institutions
  • A wholesale option available for other local operators
  • Maximum number of constituencies receiving broadband per network dollar (at $320 per household, there will be five-20 times the number of households served per network dollar vs. that for comparable wireline deployments)

For more information, please contact Stephen Williams at swilliams@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x110.


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TJPDC Examines Road, Bicycle Options

Berkmar Drive Options Reviewed
TJPDC has completed preliminary analysis for the Berkmar Drive Extension Study. Berkmar Drive is proposed to extend north from the South Fork of the Rivanna River to Lewis and Clark Drive in northern Albemarle. The extended new roadway would be a four-lane arterial parallel to Route 29.

This study examined one “No Build” base alternative and five “Build” alternatives with different improvements. The analysis shows that the extension can greatly reduce Route 29 traffic volumes between the South Fork and Airport Road, while maintaining an acceptable level of service on Berkmar Drive itself. Travel time along the 5.4 mile stretch of Route 29 from Lewis and Clark Drive to Rio Road could be reduced by six minutes with the Berkmar Extension build-out. Widening Route 29 to six lanes from Polo Grounds Road to Route 33 in Ruckersville could further relieve congestion. The study, which is being reviewed by Charlottesville and Albemarle officials, also tests the impact of additional land use of the potential South Hollymead expansion.

TJPDC has strong technical capabilities of travel demand modeling and traffic simulation analysis, and is able to perform in-house modeling and planning activities to address complex regional and local transportation issues. Local governments could reduce consulting costs by contracting with TJPDC to assist with transportation planning needs. For more information, contact Stephen Williams at swilliams@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x110, or Johnny Han at yhan@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x260.

Northtown Trail Envisioned
TJPDC, at the request of the City of Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services Office and the Albemarle County Office of Community Development is working to determine possible locations for a commuter bicycle route connecting the Hollymead commercial area to downtown Charlottesville. This bike trail would extend approximately 15 miles from Lewis and Clark Drive in northern Albemarle, to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. The overall goals and objectives for this project include the following:

  • establishing a multimodal transportation option in the northern urban area
  • increasing the frequency of use for bicycling facilities in both jurisdictions
  • decreasing the need for vehicle parking in populated areas
  • establishing better connectivity between city and county transportation systems
  • creating more “complete streets” throughout the urban area

TJPDC staff is working with city and county planning staff to identify existing bicycling facilities, to gather origin and destination data and to determine a conceptual trail. For additional information, contact Sarah Eissler at seissler@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x360.


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General Assembly Legislative Report Available

A summary report highlighting action taken on bills and the state budget at the 2010 session of the General Assembly is now available on the TJPDC website. The document highlights items of interest to local governments. The text of the legislative report is available at http://www.tjpdc.org/liaison/finalReport.asp. If you have questions about items in this summary, contact David Blount at dblount@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x350.


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HOME Action Plan Available for Public Comment

The City of Charlottesville and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) invite all interested citizens to comment on the draft 2010 - 2011 Action Plan of the Consolidated Plan for the City and TJPDC. The Action Plan guides the use of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds in Charlottesville and federal HOME funds in the TJPDC (Charlottesville and counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson). Funding levels for the coming year were not yet known when the draft report was issued, but have now been confirmed as $579,630 in CDBG funds and $1,007,754 in HOME funds. A public hearing was held on Thursday, April 1 at the TJPDC office. Comments will be accepted until April 26. To submit a comment or request more information, contact Melissa Celii, City of Charlottesville, at 434-970-3093, or Billie Campbell, TJPDC, at bcampbell@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x230. The plan is available at http://www.tjpdc.org/housing/consPlan_HOME.asp


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Eco-Logical Project Featured in FHWA Newsletter
Green Infrastructure

TJPDC’s project under the Federal Highway Administration’s Eco-logical grant program was featured in the FHWA Success in Stewardship monthly newsletter in April. The newsletter recognized the project for making great strides over the past year, completing a green infrastructure study and gaining support for the study from TJPDC member governments. Next stages of the project include producing an overlay of planned transportation projects on the green infrastructure data to connect transportation and environmental information. This will allow TJPDC to identify potential impact and mitigation areas. The project team also is developing a model for identifying and prioritizing specific mitigation projects to best utilize transportation mitigation funds as they become available. Click here to read the feature. For additional information, contact Erin Yancey at eyancey@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x320.


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RideShare Youth Program Recognized; Clean Commute Day Nears

RideShare Youth Program Wins Communication Award

A day on the go

“A Day on the Go: Making Smart Choices with Zach and His Friends” is a workbook and accompanying website (www.ADayontheGo.org) created by RideShare to educate youth in grades 3-5 on transportation choices and the environment. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently cited the program with a runner-up award in the “Communicating Concepts with John and Jane Q. Public” Competition. RideShare Program Manager, Lisa Horanyi, attended the TRB annual conference to accept the award and present a summary of the program.

The workbook follows the adventures of four friends as they carpool, walk and bike around their neighborhoods. Filled with stories, activities and games, the workbook is both educational and entertaining. Copies of the workbook are available free of charge to anyone interested. Please contact RideShare via phone at (434) 295-6165 or e-mail at rideshare@tjpdc.org.

TRB is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council— a private, nonprofit institution that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies in providing services to the government, the public and the scientific and engineering communities. The TRB sponsors the John and Jane Q. Public Competition to highlight effective ways to communicate transportation concepts to non-technical audiences.

Clean Commute Day 2010 is Coming Soon

Clean Commuter Day 2010

Spring is here and time for spring cleaning – don’t forget to clean your commute! Join us for the 20th Annual Clean Commute Day in the Central Virginia area, being held on Friday, May 7th. It’s easy to participate in Clean Commute Day…..just take the Clean Commute Pledge and promise to use a commute option other than driving alone for at least one day this spring. Your actions will help the environment and you could win valuable prizes (see below). Take the pledge at www.CommuterInformation.com or stop by the Clean Commute Day celebration on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall between 11 am and 2 pm on Friday, May 7th. You can ride CTS for free all day, while JAUNT is offering free rides on its commuter routes all week long when you board with a bike. 

This year’s grand prize is a pair of roundtrip tickets to any destination on Amtrak’s new Northeast Regional service, which provides serve between Lynchburg and the Northeast Corridor.  Use the prize to travel to DC, Philadelphia, New York or Boston! Runner up prizes include gift certificates from Target, Whole Foods, and a free Zipcar membership.

Clean Commute Day is sponsored by the Commuter Information Team (CIT), which is composed of RideShare, JAUNT, CTS, UTS and Greene County Transit. CIT works to enhance the quality of life and mobility of people in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District by promoting the use of alternatives to single occupant vehicles to reduce traffic congestion, through private-public partnerships, community outreach and individualized service.

(About Amtrak: The new Amtrak Virginia Lynchburg Northeast Regional service provides service between Lynchburg, VA, and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The service provides a one-seat ride between Lynchburg and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Recently, Amtrak Virginia partnered with the Virginia Tourism Corporation and localities along the route to offer vacation packages to two of the route's most popular destinations, Charlottesville and Lynchburg. The packages offer discounted vacations if you travel with Amtrak. Visit www.amtrakvirginia.com for more information on the new service or Amtrak Virginia vacation packages.)


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Eastern Planning Initiative Case Study Conducted

The Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) has interviewed TJPDC staff as part of a case study on the scenario planning approach used by the Eastern Planning Initiative. This two-year scenario planning study, conducted to better integrate land use and transportation planning, was carried out in the early 2000s by TJPDC and consultants and was funded primarily by the FHWA Transportation and Community and System Preservation (TCSP) Pilot Program. It included the eastern portions of the TJPDC region, and had three primary goals:

  • Incorporate sustainability and livability principles into a 50-year regional vision
  • Build off the Sustainability Accords, a framework to guide the region toward increased sustainability, which were created in 1998 by TJPDC and public stakeholder groups
  • Promote and use a new type of model that integrated transportation and land use while considering alternative and non-motorized transportation

The case study is now posted on the FHWA scenario planning website as one of five case studies under New Trends in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/Planning/scenplan/index.htm. The PDF version of the report can also be found on the ‘Resources’ page of the FHWA website (see the first entry) at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/Planning/scenplan/resources.htm. For additional information, contact Billie Campbell at bcampbell@tjpdc.org, or 434-979-7310 x230.


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Livable for a Lifetime Website Launched

A new website for the “Livable for a Lifetime” initiative has been launched. The purpose of the Livable for a Lifetime (L4L) initiative is to promote change in the practice, policy, design and construction of homes and communities by promoting the application of Universal Design. Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people regardless of their ability or age, and to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The new website contains white papers on Universal Design in Homes, Universal Design in Communities, and information on the benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units. It also provides L4L News Briefs, links to valuable websites and information on home modification. The Home Modification section is funded through a small grant awarded by the Bama Works Fund of the Dave Matthews Band in the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF). Please visit the new website at www.LivableForALifetime.org, and for more information, contact Bill Wanner at wwanner@tjpdc.org or 434-979-7310 x390.


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More Services Envisioned in TJPDC Strategic Plan

Based on the evaluation of TJPDC and the information on the programs of other Virginia PDCs, the Commissioners and executive staff have been discussing potential updated programs and products for TJPDC. The following briefly describes new program areas.
Grant Writing and Administration - TJPDC would provide grant writing and administration services at the request of member governments. This would help improve member government access to grant funds and remove the administrative burden that often accompanies grant funds.
Regional Training Center - TJPDC would develop a training program focused on the needs of member government elected and appointed officials and staff members. This would help meet the training needs of local governments while reducing costs associated with existing training programs.
Regional Initiatives - TJPDC would annually focus on a regional initiative area identified by the member governments. In this fashion, the six member governments could work cooperatively to address key issues impacting all, without the cost and effort required if each worked on these issues alone.
Environmental Program Development - TJPDC would improve its environmental program to allow it to actively work on a full range of environmental issues that affect the member governments. This would supplement the capabilities of local government staff members.
Joint Procurement - TJPDC would begin assisting local government procurement efforts. This would reduce effort on the part of all the governments, allowing staff to focus their attention on other issues.
Traffic Analysis/Modeling/Simulation - TJPDC would develop traffic analysis, modeling and simulation capabilities for the region’s rural areas. This will help local governments to determine the traffic impacts of local land use plans and help improve coordination between land use and transportation.
GIS Services - TJPDC would develop the ability to provide turnkey GIS services for member governments. This will improve access to GIS by the local governments at lower costs.
Regional Economic Development - TJPDC will work with Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development and member governments’ economic development staff to prepare economic development information and plans for the region. This will provide all the members with a view of each community’s economic development needs and assets within the framework of the entire region.
Member eGovernment Support - TJPDC would provide, on an hourly basis, support for member government websites and other typical eGovernment services. This would supplement current approaches and hopefully reduce costs for the member governments.


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Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
PO Box 1505 - 401 East Water Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
www.tjpdc.org
(434) 979-7310