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Ecomomic Development Authority 10.02.08

[ 0 ] October 3, 2008 |

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
Thursday, October 2, 2008

Present: Mr. Greg Kelly, Mr. Steve Crandall, Mr. Erwin Berry, Ms. Emily
Pelton and Mr. Natt Hall (Staff: Ms. Maureen Corum and Guest: Mr. Stu
Armstrong)
Absent: Mr. Bennett Saunders and Mr. Alphonso Taylor

MOBILITY NEEDS ASSESSMENT – Ms. Melissa Barlow, Director of Transportation
Programs for Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, presented a
report on the transportation challenges facing the Rockfish Valley. She
noted that the Valley is facing tough economic times with both the real
estate and tourism markets slowing, as well as a 70% reduction in
construction – all affecting local businesses. Ms. Barlow said that the
proposal is to consider a fixed-route transit service between the
Wintergreen Resort Villages and the villages of Nellysford, Glen Mary and
Beech Grove with connections to neighboring cities. She noted that the
benefits to a transit service include connections to local businesses;
connections between the Valley and neighboring city destinations;
environmentally-friendly transportation – 270 cars off the road each day,
162 gallons of fuel saved daily, etc – and maintaining the customer base in
the face of rising transportation costs.

Ms. Donna Shaunessy, JAUNT, identified potential riders – Wintergreen
residents and associates, international associates (seasonal employees),
Rockfish Valley residents, students, area non-drivers and regional riders
going to Charlottesville, Waynesboro and Lynchburg. She reviewed the point
of origin for the Wintergreen guests, noting that they typically come from
areas with established public transit systems so a transit system would not
be an unfamiliar concept to them. Ms. Shaunessy then identified potential
challenges to a transit system –
– a lack of density requiring more space between transit stops which
equals more time spent riding;
– competition from cars – most Wintergreen & Rockfish Valley residents and
guests will have vehicles; and
– missing infrastructure – limited pedestrian connections to/from transit
stops.

Ms. Shaunessy reviewed the existing transit services – operated by
Wintergreen and by JAUNT. She then presented a phased-in proposal –

Phase I (Year 1-2) – JAUNT Fixed Route Service with a local fixed route
connecting the Wintergreen Mountain Inn to Rockfish Valley destinations,
ending at Stoney Creek, with a connector route to Charlottesville. The
proposed schedule would provide 3 trips Monday-Thursday at 11am, 5pm and 6pm
with return trips at 1pm, 7:30pm & 9:30pm. There would be stops at Beech
Grove, Glen Mary & Nellysford. The Friday-Sunday service would be hourly
from 6:30am-11pm with the same stops. The fare is proposed at $1.00
one-way. Phase I would include a connection from the Mountain Inn to
Charlottesville at 8am, 10:30am & 5pm (with an additional time added during
ski season) with a stop in Nellysford. There would be five trips from
Charlottesville to the Mountain Inn and the fare is proposed at $7.00
round-trip. Ms. Shaunessy noted that the connector to Charlottesville would
bring customer from that area to Nellysford, Wintergreen and the County;
provide car-free access for overnight guests who arrive by train or plane;
adds a transportation alternative for resort guests and staff; could partner
with a limousine service for an airport shuttle to the Downtown Transit
Center.

Phase II (Year 3-4) – would add one additional route between the
mountaintop and Nellysford Monday-Thursday and add a second bus between
Wintergreen and Charlottesville. Phase II would also add a connection route
to Waynesboro with a $7.00 roundtrip fare.

Ms. Shaunessy presented a proposed budget for Phase I utilizing three
mountain-worthy vehicles ($270,000) with annual operating costs of $363,550
plus $20,000 for marketing for a total of $663,550 in expenses. She noted
$396,775 in potential Federal Transportation Funds and $2,000 estimated in
fares for total revenues of $398,775. The budget noted $254,775 in local
funds required.

Mr. Crandall, noting the $254,000 required local match, asked what the
annual set-aside would be for replacement vehicles. Ms. Shaunessy said that
with available Federal funds, the ongoing commitment, including vehicle
replacement set-aside, would be approximately $170,000 annually. Mr.
Armstrong said that there are various options for developing the local
matching funds and suggested that the group begin with presenting the
proposal to various stakeholders.

After discussing the next steps, EDA members asked TJPDC and JAUNT to
present the proposal to various county groups, including WPOA, WPI, Board of
Supervisors, Planning Commission, and citizens and businesses.

Members voted unanimously to endorse pursuit of a comprehensive
transportation plan as initially outlined by TJPDC and JAUNT. In addition,
members voted unanimously to authorize Mr. Crandall to spend up to $2,500
for expenses to present the proposal to the groups named above.

Meeting adjourned.

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