Traffic in the Roanoke region isn't nearly as bad as places like Washington, D.C., or Richmond, but in 10 years that could change. That's one reason a new study is underway.
"People always complain about Elm Avenue and people are right to complain about that," said Tyler Godsey with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) who is studying congestion.
"I don't think there any absolute surprises, where no one would've ever suspected any congestion," said Mark McCaskill, a RVARC regional planner.
They are currently taking traffic snapshots three times a day from Google maps that show where the snags are - places like downtown Roanoke, Cave Spring corners, Route 460 in Vinton and Main Street in Salem.
"We will have a well over 100 of these snapshots and what we'll be looking for are patterns. Not that something is read once and only once, but something recurring," said McCaskill.
This study is all because more than 200,000 people now live in the coverage area. It means the Metropolitan Planning Organization has to do its first ever congestion management plan, but they'll get $28 million from the federal government over the next six years.
Once the congestion study is complete in October, they'll look at the top five spots and figure out ways to ease traffic congestion, like maybe adding a turn lane, changing the timing on traffic signals, or encouraging people to use alternative transportation.
"This is as much a part of dealing with our current congestion as it is managing the future congestion transportation issues that might come up and where they might happen," said Godsey.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization now has to decide how to spend the money and is currently accepting applications for things like traffic improvements or other transportation projects like the greenways.
You'll find more information here: http://www.rvarc.org/mpo/index.html