PDC/MPO Staff Attend Title VI Training

On December 16, 2022, five members of staff attended a training on Title VI on the Civil Rights Act addressing non-discrimination in all federally-funded activities that we undertake at the PDC. Title VI ensures that no one is discriminated against based on their race, nationality or skin color. The Virginia Association of MPOs (VAMPO) hosted the training in partnership with PlanRVA, which contracted with KLT Group to develop and lead the training, and Thomas Jefferson PDC, which acted as the local host at the UVA North Fork Facility in Charlottesville.

Waynesboro Receives Eastern Federal Lands Access Program (EFLAP) Funding

US DOT awarded the City of Waynesboro a $950,000 grant that will pay for preliminary engineering and partial right-of-way acquisition on a trail to connect Sunset Park to the Crozet Tunnel and then onto Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail via the Rockfish Gateway Trail. Waynesboro Director of Parks and Recreation, and the Chair of the Crozet Tunnel Foundation Dwayne Jones says that “while all final appropriations will be contingent upon Congress approval, we are thrilled to share the great news!”

Shenandoah Valley Airport Project Approved

Following GO Virginia Region 8 Council’s recommendation, the GO Virginia State Board approved the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission’s (SHD) site development proposal at its December 13 meeting. SHD was awarded $993,300 for utility improvements at its 58-acre Aviation Technology Park. The project will construct new water and sewer lines, moving existing utilities from the center of the site to its perimeter. The relocation of utilities enables future construction of additional hangars and facilities to support aviation-related business growth in the region. The project is expected to create more than 260 higher-wage jobs. Design and engineering for the project was supported by a GO Virginia Enhanced Capacity Building grant. With a federal grant through the Economic Development Administration, SHD is currently constructing two hangars in the Aviation Technology Park that are expected to be completed in the summer. The CSPDC provides technical assistance and grant administration services for these projects.

Rockbridge Area Tourism Gathers Input for DRIVE Outdoor Grant

On December 14th, Rockbridge Area Tourism held a workshop at the Virginia Horse Center to gather input for their recently received DRIVE Outdoor Grant. The DRIVE Outdoor Grant was awarded by the Virginia Tourism Corporation and builds on the recently completed DRIVE 2.0 Statewide Strategic Plan. The goal of the workshop was to determine next steps for outdoor recreational product development in the Rockbridge Region. DRIVE Outdoor funds can be used to enhance outdoor recreational development, assets, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Rockbridge Area Tourism invited Rockbridge Outdoors members as well as other community stakeholders to attend the event.

During the meeting, the group conducted a competition analysis of similar outdoor recreation markets, and determined priority outdoor recreation product development opportunities for the near term, over the next two years, and a five-year strategy. The group settled on a final ‘hub and spoke’ model that determined a primary tourism lure, outdoor products to sustain and enhance, and two new outdoor product concepts.

More information on DRIVE Outdoor can be found here: https://www.vatc.org/driveoutdoor/


Afton Express Annual Report Published and Service Expansion in Progress

The Afton Express is a public commuter bus system that connects the Shenandoah Valley to the Charlottesville area with daily transit service provided Monday through Friday. First launched on September 1, 2021, the Afton Express has seen great success and has proven to be a safe, convenient, and affordable way for people to get to work, medical appointments, and other services.

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) is pleased to share the first Annual Report for the Afton Express. This report provides an overview of ridership and performance during the first 16 months of operations (September 2021 – December 2022). The report also includes highlights from the first year, a summary of rider impressions collected during a rider survey last fall, and a glimpse of what is to come in the future.

The report can be viewed on the web here: 2021-2022 Afton Express Annual Report

Operated by Virginia Regional Transit (VRT) as a route in the BRITE Bus system, the Afton Express provides four trips from the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro (SAW) region to Charlottesville and Albemarle County in the morning; and four return trips back to the Valley in the afternoon/evening. The Afton Express offers low fares, discounted multi-trip farecards, plush seats, and on-board WiFi to provide riders with a comfortable and convenient commute.

Afton Express has been funded through a demonstration grant provided by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) matched with local funds from the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Charlottesville, the counties of Augusta and Albemarle, and the University of Virginia. This service would not be the success it is without the support of our regional partners.

As ridership steadily increases, the team at the CSPDC and VRT are gearing up for a planned expansion of services to launch in February 2023. This expansion includes a fifth trip in the evening to provide later service and a new stop at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. The goal of this expansion is to make service available to commuters whose work schedules vary from traditional business hours.

The proposed expanded schedule was released for a 21-day public comment period on December 27th. Once the CSPDC has reviewed the feedback provided during this comment period, final adjustments to the schedule will be made and the expansion will be implemented.

CSPDC staff and our transit operators at VRT are looking forward to the future of the Afton Express and are excited to continue delivering quality and reliable service in 2023. To stay up to date on what’s happening with the Afton Express, be sure to follow us on Facebook and check our website for route maps, schedules, and other information.

Warm Springs Pools Reopen

After a 5-year closure, the Warm Springs Pools reopened to the public on December 16, 2022. Operating since the 1760s, the Warm Spring Pools are an important to link to Bath County’s history and a vital piece of the community’s tourism industry. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, and Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt headline a long history of prominent guests who have enjoyed the mineral waters of the natural hot springs.

Having acquired the Pools in 2013, the Omni Homestead began a $4.5 million renovation process in 2021 to restore the Pools to how they looked in the 1920s. The 14-month renovation process came to end on December 16, 2022 as the Omni Homestead hosted a locals-only soft reopening. The Pools are currently open for reservations Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling 540-839-3860 or emailing warmspringspools@omnihotels.com.

SAWMPO Recognizes Out-Going Members

The Staunton Augusta Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAWMPO) recognized out-going Board members Bobby Henderson of the City of Waynesboro, Carolyn Dull of the City of Staunton, and Randy Kiser of the VDOT Staunton District at the December MPO Policy Board meeting.

Mr. Kiser served as a founding member since the MPO was established in 2012. The MPO also recognized out-going Administrative Assistant Kimberly Miller for her outstanding dedication and service to the MPO since 2012.

The Policy Board directs and approves regional transportation planning and implementation activities in the SAW region, and consists of seven elected or appointed officials from the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, Augusta County, and VDOT.

Winter CERT Course Registration Open

The next Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training starts January 19, 2023. Designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the course will run each Thursday from 6:30 – 9:00 pm until March 9. The class is free, but you must register to attend. Contact Rebecca Joyce to learn more and register: rebecca@cspdc.org  540.885.5174