Hampton Roads is home to many U.S. military and supporting sites that are important to the defense and security of our nation. The total military population – including active duty, reserve, retirees and family members – totals approximately 300,000 or almost 20% of the area's total population of 1.6 million. As a result of the area's large military presence, much of the local economy is driven by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Defense readiness and efficient military operations require a sufficient transportation network so that cargo and personnel can be moved as quickly and safely as possible.
The overall purpose of this planning effort is to determine military transportation needs and to provide an efficient and safe transportation network for the military in Hampton Roads.
Highway Network Analysis
In 2011, the HRTPO completed the Hampton Roads Military Transportation Needs Study: Highway Network Analysis . The HRTPO staff worked with various stakeholders – local military representatives, federal agencies, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Port Authority and local jurisdictions – to determine transportation concerns and needs of the local military.
Based on stakeholder input, the HRTPO staff identified a roadway network that includes both the Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET) and additional roadways that serve the military sites and intermodal facilities not included in the STRAHNET. The HRTPO staff reviewed this "Roadways Serving the Military in Hampton Roads" network to determine deficient locations, such as congested segments, deficient bridges, and inadequate geometrics. Based on stakeholder input and the analysis of deficient locations in this study, the HRTPO staff has recommended several transportation projects that may benefit military travel. The HRTPO staff plans to incorporate this work into future iterations of the Congestion Management Process and the regional Long-Range Transportation Plan Project Prioritization Tool to assist decision makers as they select future transportation projects.
Military Commuter Survey
A total of 10,994 Hampton Roads military commuters completed the HRTPO Military Commuter Survey . The survey was designed to identify the challenges local military personnel and military-related commuters routinely face during their daily commutes. From November 8, 2011through February 20, 2012, the HRTPO collected information about the commuting experience of military personnel (active-duty, civilians, contractors, reservists and others) travelling to/from the region's military bases. The survey was developed by the HRTPO, in concert with the commands of the region's military installations and various other transportation stakeholders.
Respondents were asked to identify items such as length of morning and afternoon commutes, mode of transportation, transportation problems, and any locations of recurring trouble along their commute, among others. The top reported transportation problems by military commuters were traffic congestion (79%), traffic backups at military gates (67%), and poor roadway maintenance (42%). At the end of the survey, respondents were asked to submit any suggestions they had regarding transportation in the region. Not only was excellent feedback provided, but many expressed thanks for having the opportunity to communicate their transportation challenges.
The results from the survey will help the HRTPO and other transportation stakeholders plan improvements with scarce transportation resources. The survey represents an extension of the partnership between the region's leaders, transportation planners, and the local military commands.
Roadways Serving the Military and Sea Level Rise/Storm Surge
In 2013, the HRTPO completed the Hampton Roads Military Transportation Needs Study: Roadways Serving the Military and Sea Level Rise/Storm Surge.
The Hampton Roads region contains one of the largest natural harbors in the world, making the region an attractive location for military facilities. This coastal location also makes many of these military facilities susceptible to projected relative sea level rise and potential storm surge threats, impacting overall defense readiness. The threat of flooding is a concern for the military in the region since military operations require a transportation network that moves cargo and personnel quickly and safely.
The impacts of relative sea level rise and storm surge have been recognized along the southeast coast for many years, particularly for low-lying communities such as Hampton Roads, Virginia. National, state, regional, and local organizations have participated (or are currently participating) in initiatives that address this pressing issue in order to raise awareness and develop potential solutions. This study (phase three) builds on previous studies and related work to estimate the relative sea level rise and potential storm surge threats to the “Roadways Serving the Military” network established in phase one of the Hampton Roads Military Transportation Needs Study. In the first phase, HRTPO staff reviewed the “Roadways Serving the Military” to determine deficient locations, such as congested segments, deficient bridges, and inadequate geometrics. This third phase of the study continues the work in phase one by determining flooding-based deficient locations along the roadway network. It expands upon the work and methodologies developed by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), by identifying military roadway segments vulnerable to submergence. Additionally, submergence of other local roadways that provide access to and from the “Roadways Serving the Military” which may be vulnerable to flooding have been identified.
Assistance to Other Military Regions
According to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Military Transportation Committee, most U.S. metropolitan areas with military installations currently have a disconnect between those installations and transportation organizations, such as the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the state Department of Transportation (DOT). The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO), however, has a long-standing relationship with the military community and has taken steps to increase related efforts in recent years. The HRTPO has advanced the cause of planning in Hampton Roads—and, by example, in the United States—through a coordinated approach to meeting the transportation needs of the military located in the Hampton Roads region.
In July 2012, Mr. Sam Belfield, Senior Transportation Engineer, from the HRTPO staff submitted a paper to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) entitled “Integrating the Military into the Metropolitan Planning Process: The Hampton Roads, Virginia Experience.” The TRB paper was peer reviewed and accepted for presentation at the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2013 and publication in TRB’s Transportation Research Record (Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2397 2013). The purpose of the paper was to inform other metropolitan areas about the integration of the military into the transportation planning process in Hampton Roads and to provide a summary of key findings from the region’s Military Transportation Needs Study. Other MPOs can apply the methodologies, results, successes, and lessons learned from Hampton Roads to their respective regions.
“The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest.”
Papers published in the Transportation Research Record have been reviewed by at least three experts and “accepted for publication through the Transportation Research Board’s peer review process”.
As a member of TRB’s Military Transportation Committee, Mr. Belfield has shared his work with interested parties around the nation.
Click here to view TRB paper “Integrating the Military into the Metropolitan Planning Process: The Hampton Roads, Virginia Experience”.
See below for local news coverage on the TRB paper by 13 News/WVEC.
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