An amendment to adopt the Transportation Matters plan into the 2025 Comprehensive Plan in Montgomery County, Virginia was discussed and approved 7-0 during a Tuesday, Oct. 10 meeting by the Board of Supervisors.
Senior Planner Justin D. Sanders presented what he said was a culmination of approximately two years of work on the project.
“Transportation Matters is really two plans in one,” Sanders said. “It is a standalone transportation plan…but it also serves as an extension of our Comprehensive Plan.”
Prior studies, public input, development vision for Montgomery County, and data analysis, from Virginia Department of Transportation and other studies, were all a part of bringing together this plan, according to Sanders.
Concerns for safety, traffic congestion, business growth and movement of commerce, as well as the impact of connecting areas that are continuing to grow as the County looks to the future, were all points discussed and addressed with the plan. Maintaining a small-town feel and rural connections within communities were also of high importance and shared by residents who submitted input towards the project.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on Sept. 13, with no public comment; however, open house events that were held leading up to the final plan brought forth a lot of helpful feedback, according to Sanders.
The Commission voted 8-0 in support of the transportation plan and its integration into the 2025 Comprehensive Plan. Supervisors responded positively to the project and what it can offer to the County, for the residents and the businesses. One aspect of the program would be the proposed New River Valley Rail Authority proposed to be established in the town of Christiansburg.
“In multimodal goal, does rail factor in at all, either for freight or passengers?” Supervisor April DeMotts said.
“It does factor in, in that we cover it within the plan, but again because the station is going to be in the jurisdiction of the town of Christiansburg, we didn’t look at it specifically in terms of those impacts; however, throughout the plan we do reference the need for public transit,” said Sanders.
DeMotts said parents have shared concerns with getting students home for the holidays and breaks.
“Our staff sits on the current Strategic Planning effort for Radford Transit,” Sanders said.
Along with the Blacksburg transit, there are plans for future transportation opportunities.
The future of Prices Fork Road was discussed during the public hearing with Supervisor Darrell Sheppard asking if anything had been considered about a parkway connection on Price Mountain in Blacksburg.
“Darrell mentioned Prices Fork Road, which yeah, it would be wonderful to have essentially a bypass for Prices Fork Road and not use it as a connector to Pulaski County anymore, because that would greatly reduce the traffic on it, I’m sure,” Supervisor Steve Fijalkowski said. “It all comes down to dollars and cents.”
Sanders said that the right-of-way is owned, and it had been discussed, but it was further out in planning at this time.
“Unfortunately, all the rights have their issues,” Sanders said, some including environmental impact problems due to the wetlands in that area.
A Memorandum of Agreement for Emergency Services was added to the agenda but was only discussed during work session by the board. Voting on the agreement has been postponed until the Oct. 23 meeting of the supervisors to allow time for emergency personnel to attend. The meeting time on Oct. 10 coincided with Fire Prevention Week and a fire parade happening in downtown Christiansburg. At the urging of Supervisor Todd King, the board voted 7-0 to postpone any decisions until the next meeting.
A Tax Relief for the Elderly and Handicapped, increasing the net combined financial worth and income limits to be eligible for relief, was approved by Supervisors in a 7-0 vote.
Additionally, Emergency Medical Transport Services billing was approved by the board, creating a category to provide billing to residents of the county versus non-residents.
“It’s going to depend on whether you’re a county resident or a non-resident and that’s something we have to comply with under federal law,” County Attorney, Marty McMahon said. “We can make sure that county residents are not billed, and the reason we can do that is because we have language in there that county residents pay taxes. The money they are paying in other taxes, we can say goes towards those costs. We can’t say the same thing for non-residents.”
McMahon said non-residents who are billed may be met with compassionate billing processes. Insurance will be applied, but non-residents must receive a bill.