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Roanoke Valley Likely to be Designated Transportation Management Area

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced that the population of the Roanoke Valley Urbanized Area is now 210,111, and includes part of Montgomery County. The Roanoke Valley urbanized area grew by about 11% in land area and the population grew by 6.4%. Long range transportation planning is conducted by the Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) as designated by federal law, and this increase in population will likely trigger designation as a Transportation Management Area (TMA) in the next few months.

Because a small part of Montgomery County is also now part of the urban area, Montgomery County will likely be represented as part of the Roanoke Valley Area MPO later this year after the boundary is adjusted. The Office of Management and Budget defines the criteria for designation and the U.S. Census Bureau uses 2010 Census data to make the designations.

Federal law requires the formation of a MPO for any urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000. The Roanoke Valley Area MPO was created in 1979 to plan and budget the use of federal transportation dollars in the Roanoke region. The U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the Roanoke Valley Area MPO as the entity responsible for transportation-related planning within the Roanoke urbanized area boundary.

Currently, MPO activities are directed by a 15-member Policy Board that establishes regional transportation policy, approves the long-range transportation plan and the transportation improvement program, defines committee duties, and adopts an annual unified planning work program.

The voting members of the Policy Board include representatives from the six member localities (urbanized portions of Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke Counties, the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, Town of Vinton), as well as the Greater Roanoke Transit Company, the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. In addition, ex-officio (non-voting) members include the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.

Planning and administrative staff to the Roanoke Valley Area MPO is provided by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, which also serves as fiscal agent. A TMA is a Metropolitan Planning Organization with an urbanized area boundary population of 200,000 and above.

An area designated as a TMA enjoys certain benefits and incurs additional requirements beyond those of small urbanized areas. TMA designation gives the MPO extra funding and planning responsibilities, including: the transportation planning process must include a Congestion Management Plan, and the MPO will receive yet to be determined federal funding allocations for surface transportation projects and planning.

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