Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Over the last several years, Virginia’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure emerged as a hindrance to economic growth and opportunity across Virginia. A Texas Transportation Institute report found that Virginia has some of the most congested roads in the nation, prompting CNBC to lower Virginia’s otherwise sterling business ranking.
The argument for additional investment was clear: A safe, reliable and efficient transportation infrastructure is essential to attracting top businesses and jobs to the region. Smart businesses know their growth potential depends, in large part, on the ability to transport people, goods and services in a safe, cost-effective manner.
After two decades of legislative gridlock in our statehouse, Gov. Bob McDonnell and leaders in the House and Senate, following the call of business leaders and residents throughout the commonwealth, decided Virginia’s inadequate investment in transportation infrastructure was nearing a tipping point. This year, McDonnell proposed, and the General Assembly approved, the first major new infusion of funding for transportation in 27 years.
For the Roanoke region, passage also means the return of passenger train service to Roanoke. Since the 1800s, freight and passenger rail have enjoyed a storied history here. However, it has been more than 30 years since the city has been served by intercity passenger rail. This year’s historic, bipartisan compromise provides a dedicated revenue source to extend the highly successful, state-supported Amtrak Virginia service through Lynchburg and into the Roanoke Valley within the next three to four years.
This new service will provide travelers a one-seat ride all the way to Boston and numerous destinations in between, with the ability to connect to more than 500 destinations served by Amtrak in the U.S. and Canada.
Not only will the new service provide our residents with more travel options to Charlottesville, Washington and beyond, but, in doing so, it will reduce congestion along Interstate 81 and U.S. 29 and create new tourist and economic development opportunities.
Additionally, a new station will help attract more citizens to restaurants and shops in downtown Roanoke, as well as the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center and surrounding hotels. This strategic location also will help improve Roanoke’s connectivity with Valley Metro and the Smartway bus.
While this year’s transportation package will provide many benefits in the years to come throughout Virginia, perhaps no benefit will be as lasting and important in this region as the return of passenger rail service to the Roanoke Valley.
On behalf of the city of Roanoke and the many members of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, we thank McDonnell and the bipartisan group of legislators whose leadership and support have finally made this long-overdue project a reality.
Roanoke can be excited about the return of the passenger train to The Star City.
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