Warner & Kaine Meet with Chambers of Commerce Along I-81

From the office of Senator Mark Warner: 

Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) met with the I-81 Corridor Coalition, a group of leaders from local Chambers of Commerce looking to facilitate interstate commerce, improve safety, and reduce congestion in the western portion of Virginia. In their meeting, the local Chamber leaders updated the Senators on their efforts to find solutions to the safety and congestions challenges plaguing the corridor. Interstate-81 is a heavily trafficked freight corridor that serves as a key route for transportation and commerce for the eastern United States. In recent years, the interstate has faced multiple bottlenecks and heavy congestion that result in decreased efficiency and higher transportation travel times and costs for the region. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has reported at least a 12 percent increase in traffic and a 55 percent increase of delays from crashes, construction, or bad weather in just the past five years.

Most federal funding for infrastructure projects is distributed to states by a fixed formula, with decisions made primarily by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and VDOT. Additional federal dollars can be obtained by states through competitive grants, such as those awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. Last year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe submitted an INFRA program application for nearly $53 million for improvements to I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley, which Sens. Warner and Kaine supported. Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine recently outlined plans to begin a study on putting such tolls on the highway. While Congress can no longer earmark funds for projects like this, Warner and Kaine discussed how the local business leaders can join them in pushing the Trump Administration to introduce a real infrastructure plan with direct federal funding. Through additional direct federal dollars, there would be more funding available to states to use toward projects like I-81.

“We support the coalition’s goal to improve travel conditions on I-81, which is in desperate need of repairs after years of congestion and safety concerns,” said the Senators. “We’re hopeful that the Trump Administration will see the need for improving roads and bridges across the country and support an infrastructure plan with real federal investment to help communities like those along I-81 who cannot necessarily afford to create toll roads and raise taxes. As former Governors, we will continue lending our expertise to state legislators and local leaders so they can find a viable, long-term solution to the funding challenges facing this crucial transportation route for the region.”

The I-81 Corridor Coalition was created to improve the safety and efficiency of freight and passenger movement through the sharing of information and coordinated decision making, management, and operations. They represent the I-81 corridor and have membership from Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. The group meeting with both Senators today included Richard Kennedy, CEO of the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber (Clarke County, Frederick County and Winchester); Annette Medlin, President and CEO of the Greater Augusta Chamber; Rebekah Gunn, Vice President of Public Policy & Strategic Issues for the Roanoke Regional Chamber; and Cally Smith, Vice President of Membership and Brand Strategy for the Roanoke Regional Chamber.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime advocates of innovative financing mechanisms for the Commonwealth’s infrastructure. Sen. Warner is the lead sponsor of bipartisan legislation to create a national infrastructure financing authority and as Governor, he began a process for improving I-81 by securing U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approval for a slot in a pilot program that would allow tolling on a limited basis. As Governor, Sen. Kaine supported transportation projects to address traffic congestion and expand transportation options in the Commonwealth.


Improve I-81 – Public Meeting on August 28

We are in the midst of an important opportunity to improve I-81. As directed by SB971, a VDOT study is underway to develop an improvement plan for I-81 and evaluate financing options for the corridor. Public participation in this process, particularly from the business community, is critical as the economic impact of potential improvements and funding mechanisms are considered. While the primary focus has been on truck-only tolling, VDOT has the authority to study a variety of financing options, with the exception of commuter tolls.

The attached slides provide metrics for I-81 on incident vs. recurring delay, person hours of delay between interchanges, and duration of incident-related lane closures between interchanges. The presentation also summarizes congestion, safety, and policy issues identified through public comment since the June meeting.

The next public meeting in the Salem district has been set for August 28 at the Salem Civic Center. This meeting will focus on potential improvements to address identified problems, provide information on potential revenue generation mechanisms, and seek public feedback on potential recommendations and financing options. Following the August meeting, VDOT will evaluate the economic impact of revenue generation mechanisms and develop a recommended package of improvements and funding options, so your participation on August 28 is important.

Thank you for your engagement in this important opportunity to improve I-81. Do not hesitate to contact rgunn@roanokechamber.org if you would like additional information or assistance in preparing public comment.

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport Receives $750,000 in Federal Funding

Airport and ChamberToday, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Congressman Bob Goodlatte announced $750,000 in federal funding to help the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission bring new non-stop service from Roanoke Regional Airport to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and/or Detroit, Michigan. The Commission can use the funds for a revenue guarantee, a marketing program, and fee waivers. This effort was a community collaboration where the Roanoke Regional Chamber and the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce worked with local businesses, who are frequent users of Roanoke Regional Airport, to secure pledges to match these funds. The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission led the process to secure the public sector funding. This funding will be formally announced at the Roanoke Regional Chamber today at 10:00 AM.

“Roanoke Regional Airport is vital to the economic health of the entire region and Virginia as a whole. We are proud to announce these grant dollars that will ensure the airport continues to offer flights that attract tourism and business and offer Virginians more travel options,” the Senators and Congressman said. “Congratulations to the Airport Commission and the local Chambers that worked so hard together to secure these funds.”

“The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission is thrilled to have been awarded a Small Community Air Service Development Grant. We sincerely appreciate the support from the community and our stakeholders, including Sens. Kaine and Warner and Rep. Goodlatte. We are hopeful that given two and a half’s years of passenger growth, these funds will help secure additional service to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver and/or Detroit. Air service is a critical component for economic development and we feel this is a significant step in the right direction,” Tim Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport, said.

“Better connectivity from ROA will open new markets throughout the country for existing businesses and help attract new investment in the Roanoke region. We are excited to see how this grant will improve service from ROA, and we appreciate the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission’s commitment to supporting our community’s needs and economic growth,” Joyce Waugh, Roanoke Regional Chamber President & CEO, said.

“Collaborative efforts such as this support existing business travel needs, ensure our region remains attractive to new business, and create new economic opportunities.  We look forward to continuing to work with our regional partners and our elected representatives to bring more opportunity to rural areas in Virginia’s Blue Ridge,” Sheri Winesett, Botetourt Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said.

The funding was awarded through the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) under the Department of Transportation. These funds help smaller communities address air service access and high fares.


Chamber News July 2018

Chamber NewsNew members, upcoming events and more! Check out your Chamber’s latest newsletter to see what your #ChamberSquad is up to. For information about sponsoring this newsletter in 2018, please contact Starr Anderson at SAnderson@RoanokeChamber.org.


Thank you for your support

Happy Chamberversary

Happy Chamber anniversary to these members. Thank you for your membership renewal this month.

  • 1st and 3rd Business Builders
  • Access, Inc.
  • Advance Auto Parts, Inc.
  • AFC Urgent Care Roanoke
  • Alsco Inc.
  • Apple Ridge Farm
  • Aquarius Pools, Inc.
  • Blanco Inc.
  • Blue Cow Ice Cream Co.
  • Blue Ridge Fabricators, Inc.
  • Brooks Financial Group, A Private Wealth Advisory Practice
  • Business Solutions, Inc.
  • Cambria Suites
  • Carrabba’s Italian Grill
  • Central Technology Solutions
  • chocolatepaper
  • Clear Channel Airports
  • CMR Institute
  • Comfort Services
  • Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico
  • Council of Community Services
  • Davenport & Co LLC
  • DeHaven Transportation Co., Inc.
  • Dominion Metallurgical, Inc.
  • Dresser-Rand-a Siemens Business, Synchrony Business.
  • Eaton Crouse – Hinds
  • Ferrum College
  • Grand Home Furnishings, Tanglewood
  • Jefferson Center Foundation, Ltd.
  • Johnson Ayers & Matthews, PLC
  • LeClairRyan
  • M&T Bank
  • Magnets USA
  • MedExpress Urgent Care
  • Mountain Lake Lodge
  • NDP
  • Neely’s Accounting Services
  • New Millennium Building Systems LLC
  • Omnisource SE
  • Orvis
  • Profile Display, Inc.
  • Quality Tire Service
  • R.L. Price Construction, Inc.
  • Ramada Inn Conference Center
  • Seal – Tite Basement Waterproofing & Foundation Repair
  • Signature Flight Support
  • Southern Trust Home Services
  • Sunscape Apartments
  • Templeton-Vest
  • The Retreat Apartments
  • Varsity Landscaping
  • Vistar Eye Center