Central Virginia Transportation Policy

Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and District Engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District John Lynch talked about transportation policy in Central Virginia at our November meeting.  The program was moderated by SSV Secretary Peppy Linden.  A podcast of the event follows with the PowerPoint presentation.

Shannon Valentine was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam in January 2018, and oversees a $5 billion multimodal transportation system crossing seven agencies with more than 10,000 employees. As secretary, she also serves as chair of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).

Valentine is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, serving on the House Transportation and Courts of Justice Committees. Her legislative priorities focused on transportation, economic development, education, and ethics. She led bipartisan efforts to create transparent government, expand clean energy production, and invest in intercity passenger rail service for the first time in Virginia’s history.

Following an assignment as a director of the Transportation Policy Council in 2013 for then Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe’s transition team, Valentine was appointed as the Lynchburg District representative to the CTB in May 2014. During this time she created the first Regional Connectivity Study in Virginia that correlated transportation decisions with workforce, business expansion and recruitment and investment, covering eight modes of transportation. For more than 25 years, she worked to create economic opportunity through housing, education and transportation. Valentine was named 2017 Transportation Woman of the Year by WTS Central Virginia Chapter. She has been honored with the Humanitarian Award by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, Democracy in Action Award by the League of Women Voters, Freedom Fighter Award by the NAACP, Woman of the Year in Government by the YWCA, and the Commonwealth Autism Services Award.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia in economics. She graduated from the Sorensen Institute at UVA, and completed Education for Ministry, a four-year theology course through Sewanee University’s School of Theology. Secretary Valentine is married to Dr. Mike Valentine, and has three children, Catherine, Jack and Brooke.

John Lynch is the district engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District, a position he has held since June 2013. He is responsible for VDOT’s construction, maintenance and operations programs in nine Piedmont Virginia counties, from Fauquier south through Albemarle. Lynch has successfully led the development and delivery of several major highway improvement projects, including the $250 million Route 29 Solutions program in Albemarle County.

Before coming to Culpeper Lynch served as regional transportation program director for VDOT’s MegaProjects Office in Northern Virginia. In that role he was responsible for administration and oversight of a transportation program valued at more than $5 billion, including the I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes projects and the extension of Metro Rail to Dulles Airport. From 2008 to 2010 he was assistant district administrator for construction in the Northern Virginia District, providing oversight for the largest construction program in the Commonwealth. Prior to that Lynch served as the Northern Virginia District location and design engineer from 2003 to 2008. Before joining the Virginia Department of Transportation in October 2003, Lynch worked in the private sector for over 20 years as a department head, section manager, project manager and design engineer for several consulting engineering firms. He started his career with Caltrans in the Los Angeles area. Lynch received his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware and completed a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from George Mason University in the spring of 2004. He is a licensed professional engineer.

Program Summary

Mr. Lynch focused his discussion on transportation issues in Central Virginia with specific references to Charlottesville’s future plans and problem spots. Starting his comments with a safety concern, he said that in 2019 there have been 58 fatalities in the Culpeper District with 50% due to unbelted drivers. This indicates an increase and it is going against national trends.  BUCKLE UP!

In Albemarle County 4 of 10 Smart Scale projects costing $1.4B have been funded from a total wish list costing $7-9B. The 29 Corridor Project including Rio Road interchange has resulted in a 43% decrease in crashes, 15-31% decrease and 8 minutes decrease in travel time. The road handles 25,000 vehicles per day. VDOT keeps a lot of statistics!

The Hydraulic Road grade separated interchange is not funded at this point. Bundling projects has been a more efficient process in obtaining funding. For example there are 6 projects worth $35.9B, including the Double Diamond I64 exit 124 interchange and roundabout at Rt. 151 and 250 West. Charlottesville as an independent city manages its own projects with some federal funding from the Culpeper office. The largest project in Virginia history is the Hampton Roads bridge-tunnel for a cost of $3.8B.

Secretary Valentine explained that VDOT covers a wide range of transportation areas from Wallops Island, Port of Virginia, rails, bridges, tunnels, metro and even bike trails. There are currently 38,000 projects being undertaken for a cost of $22.9B. The three-prong goal of VDOT is 1. execution, 2. innovation with all new modes of transportation including autonomous vehicles, and 3. economic development and competitiveness for the state of Virginia. To improve transportation VDOT is focusing on increasing the diversity of travel options, Jaunt like rural bus service, improving rail on I95 corridor, partnering with other private and government groups (commercial and passenger trains have to share a single lane on Long Bridge over Potomac River) and selective widening of I81.

For further information search the VDOT website. We are in the Culpeper District.

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