Despite being geographically located at the crossroads of two major national rail corridors and having the only airport designated as a US Port of Entry within a couple-hundred miles, more than 90% of all regional freight is moved by truck. In 2012, the New River Valley region exported more than $6 billion in freight value. By 2040, freight is expected to grow more than 70% to nearly $11 billion. Regional partners are working collaboratively to anticipate future bottlenecks and develop an action plan aimed to keep the regional economy growing.
In general, our regional freight network is very reliable and there are opportunities to accommodate future freight volumes. However, the topography of the region can cause truck traffic to drop well below 60% of the posted speed limit, causing frustrating delays for every-day traffic. If today’s freight challenges remain unaddressed, much more of our nation’s busiest highways will be clogged on a daily basis. Key recommendations from the Regional Freight Plan include:
- Investing in new technologies that optimize infrastructure capacity
- Improving key interchanges/intersections with Interstate 81 and US Route 460
- Partner with State agencies to diversify freight movement to increase global economic competitiveness
- Increase communication between public and private sectors to address key challenges
- Increase data collection and improve accuracy
Undoubtedly, more freight passes through the region en route to other parts of the country each day via truck, rail, and air. According to the 2015 Virginia Multimodal Freight Plan, 40% of all freight tonnage simply passes through Virginia in route to another state. Most of the NRV’s freight is bound to or from points west in other parts of the country, often traveling distances that are ideal for rail and/or air transport. The 2018 Regional Freight Plan for Virginia’s New River Valley reviews factors contributing to the regional freight profile, identifies a critical network, and analyzes current and forecast-year freight generations.
The plan was developed through a partnership between the New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Regional Commission. A draft of the Regional Freight Plan is available online, here: nrvrc.org/regionalfreightplan/. For further information, please contact Eli Sharp ([email protected]), 540-639-9313, ext. 210.