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.

About VTrans

Virginia's transportation network needs to efficiently and effectively meet the demand for travel and connectivity between different parts of the Commonwealth, 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 Commonwealth.

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 SCALE Program and receive priority consideration in VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program. Projects in these programs are included in the Commonwealth’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.

Mid-term Needs

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 Commonwealth’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.

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.

A Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS) is set of roadways, rail lines, and other facilities to support interregional travel within and outside the Commonwealth. 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 Commonwealth 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.

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 Commonwealth’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 Commonwealth’s infrastructure and promote the Commonwealth’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

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.

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.

Please refer to the 10-step process found on the Mid-term Needs page. The mapping application, InteractVTrans displays the update to the Mid-term Needs through an interactive mapping application.

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.

Mid-term Needs also guide the development of tiered recommendations. Tier-1 Recommendations, per the 2018 Commonwealth Transportation Board Policy, will become eligible for state funding, project development, and advance activities related to capacity and safety related needs identified in VTrans.

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.

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 Commonwealth’s infrastructure and promote the Commonwealth’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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Yes, the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment (OIPI) is utilizing the updated Commonwealth Transportation Board-adopted VTrans Mid-term Needs for screening applications during Round 4 of SMART SCALE.

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 Commonwealth’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.

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.