Last summer, Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) staff, in collaboration with rural area stakeholders, began work on the 2045 Rural Long-Range Transportation Plan (RLRTP), a transportation vision plan for the City of Franklin and Southampton County. The RLRTP is part of an ongoing statewide effort to create and maintain regional transportation plans in rural areas that complement those in Virginia’s metropolitan and small urban areas. Given potential impacts of population and employment growth to the transportation system in rural areas, the RLRTP will examine potential improvements that could be made by the year 2045, independent of funding availability. This vision plan can then be used by local, regional, and state agencies to identify rural transportation funding priorities.
As part of developing the 2045 RLRTP, HRTPO staff developed a MetroQuest public survey to help better understand issues that are important to residents of Franklin and Southampton County. This survey was made available online between December 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 on the Franklin, Southampton County, and HRTPO websites. HRTPO staff also posted flyers advertising the survey and distributed paper copies of the survey at various locations in Franklin and Southampton County. Additionally, the survey flyer was advertised through The Tidewater News, the local newspaper for Franklin, Southampton County, and Isle of Wight County (see right, top photo).
The survey was comprised of 16 questions that covered a range of topics including how people travel around, neighborhood transportation issues, preferred transportation improvements, regional priorities, transit usage, and comfort levels in using bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Additionally, survey participants had the opportunity to submit candidate projects by placing map markers on an interactive map. The MetroQuest tool also allowed survey participants to include a description of their suggested project.
HRTPO staff collected valuable information from this survey. A major key takeaway is that while most survey participants use their personal vehicles to travel around, there is a demand among them to have transportation options (e.g., transit, biking, walking, car, etc.) including on-demand transportation services like Uber and Lyft. Another key takeaway is that having a safe and secure transportation system was important to the survey participants. This observation was supported by survey participants identifying potential safety issues along major corridors with heavy vehicular traffic, such as US 58, and along two-lane rural roads that may be perceived as being too narrow.
As next steps, HRTPO staff, in coordination with rural stakeholders, will evaluate the 2045 RLRTP candidate projects with the Project Prioritization Tool. Following project evaluation, HRTPO staff will take steps to wrap up work on the 2045 RLRTP, which includes initiating a public review of the RLRTP recommendations and report before it goes to the HRTPO Board for final approval.
For more information on the RLRTP, please visit the HRTPO’s RLRTP webpage.