Shenandoah Rail Trail Update

The Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership continues to expand support and secure funding to acquire, design and construct the 48.5-mile trail between the Town of Broadway in Rockingham County and the Town of Front Royal in Warren County. The Partnership recently secured a $3 million congressional earmark for partial design and engineering of the Trail.

In late 2022, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) also allocated $1 million to VDOT to finalize the full scope, schedule and cost estimate to design, engineer, and construct the Trail as the Commonwealth evaluates how it may acquire the out-of-service rail corridor. The Partnership continues to keep  local governments and community organizations along the corridor informed about successes and next steps.

For more information on the Rail Trail Partnership’s activities and updates on the Trail progress, visit

CSPDC Recognizes New Commissioners

Amy Darby

Ms. Darby was appointed to the CSPDC Commission to represent the City of Staunton. She is a graduate of Mary Baldwin University and has been employed by the Commonwealth of Virginia for over 25 years helping youth and families.



Monica Robinson

Ms. Robinson was appointed to the CSPDC Commission to represent the City of Harrisonburg. She is a graduate of James Madison University and Walden University and is Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project.



Kim Sandum

Ms. Sandum was appointed to the CSPDC Commission to represent Rockingham County as their citizen representative. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and is Rockingham County Coordinator and Transportation Lead for the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley.



CSPDC Hires New Finance Director

Ethan Riley was hired as CSPDC’s Finance Director and started work in January. He received his bachelors from Liberty University in accounting. Previously Ethan worked as a State Auditor at the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts. He currently resides in Fishersville with his wife, son, daughter, and cat. In his free time, Ethan enjoys spending time with family, attending sports events, and going to the beach.

CSPDC Marks 20 Years of CERT Training

In 2023, the CSPDC celebrates 20 years of providing the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program in the region.  Since 2003, over 600 people have participated in the CERT Basic Course and currently over 100 people serve as CERT volunteers.

The current CERT course is the 40th time that the CSPDC has offered this training.  Please contact Rebecca Joyce, Community Program Manager at or 540-885-51174 ext. 112 if you would like to register for the training.

2022 Population Estimates Released

The University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released its official Virginia Population Estimates on January 30, 2023. The estimates provide an accurate approximation of county and independent city populations on July 1, 2022. State and local government agencies use this data for funding allocations, planning, and budgeting purposes.

The CSPDC’s 2022 population estimate is 308,788, roughly 0.5% higher than the 2020 Census estimate, or 1,577 residents. Since the 2020 Census, the cities of Harrisonburg and Waynesboro have experienced the greatest population growth. Estimates indicate that the population of Harrisonburg is roughly 1.6% higher, or 890 residents, while the population of Waynesboro is roughly 1.5% higher, or 341 residents. In contrast, the City of Lexington and Rockbridge County experienced a slight decline in population. Estimates indicate that the population of Lexington is roughly 2.9% lower, or 215 residents, while the population of Rockbridge is roughly 0.7% lower, or 152 residents. All other localities in the CSPDC region experienced slight growth over 2020 Census estimates, between 0.1% and 0.5%, ranging from an increase of 2 to 392 residents.

The Weldon Cooper Center notes that large college and university populations were often undercounted in the 2020 Census. To account for this, the Weldon Cooper Center benchmarked population estimates for localities with at least 20% college population, like the cities of Harrisonburg and Lexington, on their 2020 and 2021 estimates, instead of the 2020 Census estimates. Once the remainder of 2020 Census data is released, the Weldon Cooper Center will further examine the discrepancies in college town populations.

The 2022 Virginia Population Estimates are available of the Weldon Copper Center’s Demographic Research Group website. Yearly demographic and population data is also available on the CSPDC’s Regional Data Center.


Afton Express Offers New Expanded Schedule Starting February 13

Starting February 13, Afton Express riders will have new options for their commutes. The expanded schedule includes a new stop in Charlottesville, expanded access to existing stops, later service, and new options for traveling from Charlottesville back to the Shenandoah Valley.

The new schedule is designed with 12-hour hospital shift workers in mind. Many of these workers are not currently served by the existing schedule, as the bus does not pick up and drop off late enough in the evening for those starting or ending their shifts at 7:00 pm. In the morning, there will be a new loop back on Trip 2 that will provide service to overnight workers getting off work and heading back to Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro. In the evening, there will be a fifth trip that will depart Waynesboro at 6:00 pm to get employees to work by 6:45 pm, and will then circle back to pick up workers getting off at 7:00 pm.

While this schedule was inspired by hospital employees, we hope the later evening service will make the service more accessible to any commuters who work later shifts. These additional times may also provide connections with Greyhound and Amtrak routes that arrive early in the morning, and depart late in the evening.

The morning departure times from Staunton, Fishersville and Waynesboro remain unchanged, but two additional departures from the Staunton Mall stop have been added. Previously, the Staunton Mall stop was only served by two of the four morning trips. Now all trips will serve the Staunton stop.

In the afternoon, Trip 2 times have been shifted about 15-20 minutes earlier to better accommodate passengers who get off work at 3:30 pm. We are hopeful this change will significantly reduce the amount of time these commuters need to wait for a return bus.

In addition to the later service, a new stop has been added in Charlottesville. Riders will now be able to get on and off at The Omni Hotel at Ridge McIntire Rd. This stop is located near the Courthouse and serves the Downtown Mall.

Overall, we are pleased to be able to expand service to reach new groups of riders while still providing reliable service to our existing riders. We are receptive to rider feedback and will continue to explore ways we can improve the schedule with future changes.

The new schedule is available on the Afton Express website at



Homebuyer Readiness Series Offered

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) and the City of Harrisonburg are partnering with Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) to offer a series of free Homebuyer Readiness short-courses in the months of February through April. The courses will provide information on homebuying basics, including what is needed to qualify for a mortgage, how to increase financial readiness and save for a down payment, and budgeting and credit preparedness. Jacob Hodges, a Housing Counselor with SERCAP, will facilitate the series.

The first four sessions are scheduled for the following Saturdays from 10am-1pm at the Lucy Simms Center in Harrisonburg, and will culminate in a full-day Homebuyer Education Training Class on Saturday, April 15:

  • February 18: Homeownership Preparation Overview – Clients will learn the basics of what’s involved in the process of buying a home, including budgeting, credit preparedness, and saving for down payments.
  • March 4: Homeownership Preparation Overview Session 2
  • March 18: Homeownership Partners and Personalized Paperwork – Clients will continue their homebuyer readiness journey by learning about programs and tools that eligible borrowers can access to reduce down payment and closing costs. Following the presentation, attendees can schedule one-on-one pre-purchase and credit counseling. Partners and presenters for this event TBD, more details coming soon.
  • April 1: Details TBD (Participants from prior sessions will select topics of interest)
  • April 15: Certified Homebuyer Education Training Class – This full-day class will be accompanied with a Virginia Housing Certificate, which is required to access many down payment and closing cost assistance programs, including the CSPDC’s First Time Homebuyer Program.

 For more information about the course, including a flyer available in English and Spanish, contact Olivia Raines at

Housing Grant Recipient Breaks Ground

On February 5, the CSPDC attended a groundbreaking for the Suter Street Neighborhood Development. The development is led by Central Valley Habitat and PDY LLC, who applied for gap funds through the PDC Housing Development Grant in Spring of 2022 and received an award of $325,000. Once complete, the development will supply 21 new units of affordable homeownership and rental opportunities in Harrisonburg. PDC Housing Development Grant funds are being used throughout the construction process, and have assisted in covering the costs of engineering & design, site planning, and permitting over the past year.

The event was organized by Central Valley Habitat, and was attended by Habitat board members, elected officials and local government staff from the City of Harrisonburg, Habitat volunteers, and families that have received or will be receiving a Habitat home.

BRITE Request for Proposals for Mobile Data Collection System

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) is soliciting proposals from qualified firms for a system to administer mobile data collection for BRITE Bus fixed route operations. The mobile data collection system (MDCS) will be a foundational technology for BRITE, transitioning from more manual methods of collecting data while also providing a rich data source to support operations and planning. The purpose of this RFP is to contract with a system provider to deliver a MDCS that includes but is not limited to: production, installation, configuration, hosting, training, licensing, maintenance, and support. The CSPDC intends to award one contract for the entire solution. Please click here to access the RFP.