Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, you’ll find some of our most Frequently Asked Questions about VTrans, organized by topic. Do you have a question that’s not reflected here? Contact us at any time with your questions or comments.



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2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs: Prioritization

There are simply too many transportation Needs identified around the state to focus on at the same time. Prioritizing the Needs helps to differentiate locations where the transportation needs are more pressing.

Based on the direction from the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), the prioritized 2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs may form the basis for the state to make more informed decisions about locations to conduct planning studies and project development activities that will contribute the most to help address the Needs.

Prioritized VTrans 2019 Mid-term Needs may also be used for development of policies related to transportation programs and activities.

Finally, local and regional planning agencies may utilize the prioritized Needs to inform local and regional planning efforts.

The Prioritized VTrans Mid-term Needs is the first steps of the VTrans Project Development Pipeline.

  1. Prioritize Mid-term Needs
  2. Identify locations for studies/solutions
  3. Conduct studies / develop solutions
  4. Inform VDOT and DRPT funding programs, including SMART SCALE.

The prioritization process will not remove any of the 2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs adopted by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in January 2020. All Board-approved Needs are being categorized to establish priorities.

The Mid-term Needs are proposed to be prioritized in four steps:

  1. The Needs will be grouped by geography, depending on the Travel Market in which they fall. Needs within the Corridors of Statewide Significance (CoSS) Travel Market and Safety Needs along the CoSS will be prioritized at a statewide level. Needs within the Regional Networks (RN) Travel Market, Safety Needs, and Needs for Industrial and Economic Development Areas (IEDAs) will be prioritized within each of the nine VDOT Construction Districts.
  2. Needs will be categorized as Very High, High, Medium, and Low within each Need category according to the severity of the Need (using the performance measure that was used to develop the Need where possible), and the magnitude of the Need (number of users affected where applicable).
  3. The Needs will then be prioritized across Need categories (e.g. Congestion, Reliability, Safety, etc.) by weighting the different categories of Needs and aggregating all Needs associated with a particular roadway segment to establish statewide and VDOT Construction District level scores. The final prioritized list will actually be a list of locations (the roadway segments), not individual Needs.
  4. The results of Step 3 will be adjusted based on influencing factors including co-located transportation repair, rehabilitation, and replacement needs, as well as risks associated with projected water-related events (storm surge, inland/riverine flooding, and sea level rise) to establish Statewide Priority and Construction District Priority Locations.
Establish criteria for aggregating VTrans Need Categories
Statewide Prioritization
Needs¹ within the Corridors of Statewide Significance (CoSS) and Safety Travel Markets²

Construction District Prioritization
Needs¹ within the Regional Networks (RN), Safety, and UDA (IEDA Access) Travel Markets²​
  1. Needs categories vary by Travel Market and include a wide range of multimodal needs such as congestion, transit access, pedestrian access, etc.​
  2. There are four (4) Travel Markets, each with a unique set of characteristics. Please refer to the Mid-term Needs page for a more detailed description.
Establish priorities within each VTrans Need Category
Criteria 1
Severity of the Need​

Criteria 2
Magnitude (Number of Users, Vehicles, etc. Affected​)
Assign weightings to each VTrans Need Category Priority from Step 2 and aggregate to establish Statewide and Construction District Priority Locations​
Adjust for influencing factors
  • Co-located transportation infrastructure repair, rehabilitation, or replacement needs​
  • Exposure to the projected sea-level rise, storm surge, and historical riverine/inland flooding

For detailed information on the proposed methodology, including which Needs categories would fall within which Priority Locations, please review the Draft Policy Guide for the Identification and Prioritization of the Mid-term Transportation Needs.

The 2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs are categorized into two prioritization geographies: (1) Statewide Priority; and, (2) District Priority. The Statewide Priority locations will be prioritized statewide (irrespective of the VDOT Construction District or region) and include the following Needs within the Corridors of Statewide Significance (CoSS) travel market:

  1. Congestion Mitigation
  2. Improved Reliability (Highway)
  3. Improved Reliability (Intercity and Commuter Rail)
  4. Capacity Preservation
  5. Travel Demand Management
  6. Safety Improvement (on CoSS)

For example, a Congestion Mitigation Need location along the “East-West” CoSS Corridor, on I-64 in Henrico County, would be compared against a Need location along the "Washington to North Carolina" CoSS Corridor, on I-95 in Stafford County.

The 2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs are categorized into two prioritization geographies: (1) Statewide Priority; and, (2) Construction District Priority. The District Priority locations are only compared within each of the Nine VDOT Construction Districts utilizing the following Need Categories:

  1. Congestion Mitigation (RN)
  2. Improved Reliability (RN)
  3. Transit Access for Equity Emphasis Areas (RN)
  4. Transit Access to Activity Centers (RN)
  5. Pedestrian Access to Activity Centers (RN)
  6. Bicycle Access to Activity Centers (RN)
  7. Capacity Preservation (RN)
  8. Transportation Demand Management (RN)
  9. Access to Industrial and Economic Development Areas (IEDAs)
  10. Roadway Safety (Statewide
  11. Pedestrian Safety (Statewide)

For example, a Regional Network (RN) Need location in the Winchester RN would be compared against a Need location in the Harrisonburg RN, since they are both in the Staunton Construction District, but that same Need location in the Winchester area would not be compared against a Need location in the Richmond RN, because Richmond is in a different Construction District.

Statewide Priority Locations will include locations that fall within the Corridors of Statewide Significance Travel Market only. Construction District Priority Locations will include Needs that fall within the Regional Network Travel Market, Safety, and Industrial and Economic Development Area (IEDA) Needs.

Corridors of Statewide Significance (CoSS) were established as multimodal corridors composed of transportation facilities and services connecting major centers of activity and accommodating inter-city and inter-state travel. These corridors play a major role in supporting passenger and freight movements across Virginia and are therefore, given their importance, are prioritized at the statewide level rather than compared with local or regional conditions or Needs.

Please note that Needs identified along CoSS, if applicable within Regional Networks, are also identified as Regional Network Needs and also get evaluated to establish Construction District Priority Locations.

Feedback from stakeholders helps the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment (OIPI) understand and incorporate local and regional input prior to presenting a final recommendation to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). Feedback received from stakeholders in 2019 helped to refine the methodology to establish the 2019 Mid-term Needs.

The anticipated timeline for finalizing the Prioritization of the Mid-term Needs is by the end of calendar year 2020.

Please refer to our webpage on the Mid-term Needs Prioritization process for more details.

The 2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs accepted by the Board include both the Needs for locally-designated Urban Development Areas (UDA’s) across the state, as well as Needs for Access to the nearest Corridors of Statewide Significance for IEDAs (Industrial and Economic Development Areas). The locally-determined UDA Needs are not included in the calculations for Statewide Priority or Construction District Priority Locations. Please note that:

  1. Technical assistance for localities to identify solutions through a locality-driven analysis for the locally-identified UDA Needs will be provided through the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment’s (OIPI) funding program called the Growth and Accessibility Planning (GAP) Technical Assistance Program. The application intake for technical assistance is expected to open in Fall, 2020.
  2. The IEDA Needs that are also part of the UDA Travel Market will be prioritized at the VDOT Construction District level as part of the Construction District Priority Locations.
  3. Finally, Corridors of Statewide Significance, Regional Network, and Safety Needs, which may overlap with locally-identified UDAs, are included in the analysis to establish Statewide Priority and Construction District Priority Locations.

2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs: Agency and Public Involvement

Please refer to the 10-step process found on the Mid-term Needs page which also summarizes all agency and public involvement activities.

A table can be found here that summarizes how measures were changed due to comments received during the Regional Workshops. Location-specific comments associated with performance measures can be viewed on InteractVTrans.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved the methodology for developing the Mid-term Needs and accepted the resulting list of Mid-term Needs in January 2020. Comments and feedback on the draft Mid-term Needs were accepted until the CTB took action to adopt the draft Needs.

VTrans Mid-term Needs are continuously evolving to reflect change in conditions. If you would like to provide feedback for future updates of VTrans Mid-term Needs, please contact us.

2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs: Methodology

The planning horizon for the Mid-term Needs is roughly 0-10 years. This time frame is helpful when considering potential solutions that can be implemented in the near term, such as infrastructure projects in SMART SCALE. Long-term Needs have a planning horizon of ten-plus years. These types of Needs are more general and will be used to help inform policy and programming decisions.

Measures used to identify VTrans Mid-term Needs are based on VTrans Goals and Objectives. More information can be found on the Mid-term Needs page.

As part of the VTrans Update, several performance measures were developed to quantify congestion, reliability, accessibility, safety, capacity preservation, and transportation demand management needs:

  • Congestion: Identifies locations where speed is significantly slower than the posted speed limit or travel time is longer than normal traffic conditions.
  • Reliability: Pinpoints locations with high variability in travel time or locations that require extra travel time built in to ensure on-time arrival and includes average on-time station arrival of Amtrak and Virginia Rail Expressway passenger trains.
  • Accessibility: Identifies areas where improved modal accessibility is needed, including regional Activity Centers where transit access is not competitive to automobile access and Equity Emphasis Areas where transit access is needed, as well as areas where bicycle and pedestrian access is needed.
  • Safety: Identifies roadway segments and intersections with higher-than-normal crash instances, fatalities, and injuries, as well as corridors with pedestrian safety needs.
  • Urban Development Areas (UDAs): Identifies various locally identified needs for improving circulation within designated areas to help support traditional neighborhood design characteristics.
  • Capacity Preservation: Identifies roadways where low-cost investments now can minimize need for costly improvements later.
  • Transportation Demand Management (TDM): Identifies need for proactive management of demand for travel based on roadway and area type.
  • Industrial and Economic Development Areas (IEDAs): Identifies Needs for development sites qualifying for designation as an IEDA by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to access the nearest Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS).

For more information, please see the VTrans Mid-term Needs Executive Summary and Methodology Reports found on the Mid-term Needs page.

For each performance measure, thresholds have been established for filtering the universe of potential congestion, reliability, accessibility, and safety data to locations with comparatively greater needs. This was done to ensure that transportation investments can be directed to the most pressing transportation challenges.

Rural areas’ Needs that are outside of Regional Networks (RNs) have been identified through the Corridors of Statewide Significance (CoSS) and Urban Development Area (UDA) travel markets. More generally, Safety Needs can occur on any state road; they are not limited by travel market.

VTrans Mid-term Needs are based on a transparent and replicable method that is guided by stakeholder input. The identified Mid-term Needs will inform the development of VDOT’s STARS and Arterial Preservation Program.

In addition to Mid-term Needs with a 0-10 year time horizon, VTrans will also identify Long-term Needs with a 10-year-or-longer time horizon. Development of the Long-term Needs will rely on the assessment of trends and their impact on the state’s transportation network including advancement in technology, vulnerability of multimodal infrastructure, anticipated population growth and land use patterns, and anticipated financial and economic conditions.

These Long-term Needs will be used to inform policy, planning and project recommendations to prepare for this long-term horizon. VTrans will initiate Long-term Needs development in 2020.

2019 VTrans Mid-term Needs: General

The 2019 Update of the VTrans Mid-term Needs was adopted by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in January 2020. For this VTrans update, the VTrans team developed new metrics and performance measures and reached out to transportation stakeholders in all regions of the state for feedback. The VTrans Mid-term Needs framework assesses the state’s Transportation Needs at three scales, or travel markets, listed below, and includes a statewide assessment of Safety Needs:

  • Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS) – Interregional travel market
  • Regional Networks (RNs) – Intraregional travel market
  • Urban Development Areas (UDAs) and Industrial and Economic Development Sites (IEDAs) – local travel market

For more complete information, see the sections below or consult any of the Mid-term Needs reports posted on our Mid-term Needs page.

You can review the full list of Mid-term Needs via the following options:

  • Option 1: Review your District's Executive Summary and Methodology report. The Mid-term Needs are compiled by VDOT Construction Districts and documented in an Executive Summary and Methodology report. Each Executive Summary document includes maps depicting the Mid-term Needs, while each Methodology report includes maps depicting results of the underlying performance measures used to identify the Needs.
  • Option 2: Download the Needs dataset. The 2019 Update of VTrans Mid-term Needs are available as an ArcGIS Map Package, which includes a description of the Needs data.
  • Option 3: Visit InteractVTrans. The Needs are also available on InteractVTrans, an interactive mapping application developed as a tool for public and stakeholder feedback and for accessing VTrans related data.

VTrans Travel Markets

A Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS) is set of roadways, rail lines, and other facilities to support interregional travel within and outside the state. There are twelve designated CoSS in Virginia. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) is responsible for the designation and study of these multimodal corridors per the Code of Virginia, section § 33.2-353.

CoSS are described in the VTrans Executive Summaries and Methodology reports found on the Mid-term Needs page. Mapping application InteractVTrans, can be used to view, query, and comment on existing CoSS.

Regional Networks (RNs) refer to the major economic regions of the state and are based on the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) areas in Virginia. MPOs are regions with population greater than 50,000 in an urbanized area. The RNs encompass the MPO areas and include the full county boundaries of any county that is only partly included as part of the MPO boundary.

RNs are also described in the VTrans Executive Summaries and Methodology reports found on the Mid-term Needs page. Mapping application InteractVTrans, can be used to view, query, and comment on existing Regional Networks.

Activity Centers are defined as “areas of regional importance that have a high density of economic and social activity” and are associated with the Regional Networks (RNs). Activity Centers have been identified through stakeholder input.

For the purposes of VTrans, Activity Centers are defined as areas of regional importance that have a high density of economic and social activity. The number and type of jobs within the Activity Centers was analyzed, and jobs were divided into three industry clusters:

  • Freight-Dependent: An area where the majority of activity output is dependent on freight transportation;
  • Local-Serving: An Activity Center that primarily serves the local population; and
  • Knowledge-Based: An Activity Center that relies on skilled labor and serves a broader market than Virginia.

Activity Centers were then assigned to the cluster that matched the plurality of jobs in that Center. For example, an Activity Center with 20% freight-dependent, 60% local-serving, and 20% knowledge-based jobs would be assigned as a Local-Serving Activity Center.

In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly established Urban Development Areas (UDAs) as a mechanism to assist with the coordination of transportation and land use planning, to encourage infill development, and to help reduce public costs related to the provision of services by focusing development in areas with existing infrastructure (see Code of Virginia § 15.2-2223.1).

The designation of UDAs is voluntary, and any City, County, or incorporated Town with its own zoning authority may choose to designate one or more UDAs. UDAs must incorporate principles of traditional neighborhood design (TND), which include, but are not limited to:

  • pedestrian-friendly road design,
  • interconnection of new local streets with existing local streets and roads,
  • connectivity of road and pedestrian networks,
  • preservation of natural areas,
  • mixed-use neighborhoods, including mixed housing types, with affordable housing to meet the projected family income distributions of future residential growth,
  • reduction of front and side yard building setbacks, and
  • reduction of subdivision street widths and turning radii at subdivision street intersections.

UDAs are described in the VTrans Executive Summaries and Methodology reports found on the Mid-term Needs page. Mapping application InteractVTrans, can be used to view, query, and comment on existing and pending UDAs.

Urban Development Areas (UDAs) are designated by Virginia localities (Counties, Cities, and Towns that have their own zoning authority) through an amendment to their Comprehensive Plan.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) was created by the Virginia General Assembly to encourage, stimulate, and support the development and expansion of the state’s economy. VEDP’s Virginia Business Ready Site Program (VBRSP) is a discretionary program to promote development and characterization of development sites to enhance the state’s infrastructure and promote the state’s competitive business environment.

As of May 2019, 535 sites were identified by the program. These sites were identified as Industrial and Economic Development Areas for the purposes of VTrans. Sites are assigned a level of “business readiness” according to the tiering categories below (this process is currently ongoing):

  • Tier 1 – Raw land with interested seller
  • Tier 2 – Site controlled and marketed for development
  • Tier 3 – Zoned industrial/commercial, due diligence complete
  • Tier 4 – Certified as “infrastructure ready”
  • Tier 5 – “Shovel Ready” – permits in place

Needs for IEDAs are based on Code of Virginia § 2.2- 2238 C. which is the foundation for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the Virginia Business Ready Site Program (VBRSP). VBRSP is a discretionary program to promote development and characterization of developable sites to enhance the state’s infrastructure and promote the state’s competitive business environment.

Needs have been identified for sites that VEDP has determined to be Tier-3 or higher, that is, “zoned industrial/commercial, due diligence complete,” “infrastructure ready,” or “shovel ready.” Readiness indicates that these sites are likely to benefit from appropriate transportation improvements.

Readiness status is determined and updated by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) as they receive new information. If you would like to update the Readiness status or some other information for an IEDA, please reach out to VEDP.

About VTrans

Virginia's transportation network needs to efficiently and effectively meet the demand for travel and connectivity between different parts of the state, all while working with limited public funds. The Statewide Transportation Plan identifies the most critical needs to guide public investment in our transportation network.

The Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment (OIPI) is located within the Office of the Secretary of Transportation and was created in 2002 to encourage the coordination of multimodal and intermodal planning across the various transportation modes within the state.

OIPI takes a leadership role across three key steps within the performance-based planning and programming process—Plan, Invest, and Manage. In this role, OIPI convenes stakeholders and engages the public, conducts planning studies and technical analysis, prioritizes investments, and tracks system performance. The Office has three program areas that assist the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB):

  • Planning Program: This program includes VTrans, Virginia’s Transportation Plan, which identifies infrastructure and policy needs.
  • SMART SCALE Program: This program prioritizes solutions that address transportation infrastructure needs identified by VTrans.
  • Performance Management Program: This program tracks performance of investments to ensure that they continue to meet our identified needs.

VTrans is multimodal and includes the following modes of transportation:

  • Highways
  • Public transportation
  • Passenger and freight rail
  • Bicycling
  • Walking

Transportation infrastructure needs identified in VTrans become eligible for funding consideration in the SMART SCALEProgram and receive priority consideration in VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program. Projects in these programs are included in the state’s Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP). The SYIP is approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) on an annual basis.

As VTrans develops, there will continue to be opportunities for citizens to participate through public meetings, reviewing materials on, and providing comments. You can send comments via mail, email, or in person at meetings.