VDOT working with Montgomery Co Schools to move "park and ride" - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

VDOT working with Montgomery Co Schools to move "park and ride"

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Concerns over this park and ride just feet away from Falling Branch Elementary school are re-ignited after an arrest is made during school hours by the U.S. Marshal service.

It happened in the early afternoon on Tuesday after Marshal’s arrested the man reportedly at gun point.

After a year battling this issue, it was the last straw that brought parents in front of the school board to ask what it will take to make a change.

PTA President Tracy Hurst is frustrated.

"Is it going to take a tragedy for this to get resolved?"

WSLS contacted Montgomery County School leaders Wednesday. Spokesperson Brenda Drake sent us this statement.

"We've been in continual conversation to have this park and ride removed. We have expressed our concerns to the town of Christiansburg and to the delegates that represent us. We have taken appropriate safety measures for our students. Our stance has not changed; this has never been a good location."

Parents say they are very pleased with the safety measures that the school has taken regarding this issue.

Hurst tells WSLS that 70 reports of trespassing were made on Falling Branch Elementary School in one year after passengers of local busses attempted to use the schools public facilities.

Since then, the school has updated their security systems and procedures. Those incidents have drastically declined since.

Even VDOT has stepped in, spending time and money to help with the issue.

Jason Bond, a spokesperson for VDOT says they’ve posted many no trespassing signs around the area.

"As a good neighbor we put up fence, we put up additional signage because certainly we were concerned for safety at our parking ride lot," Bond said.

Bond tells WSLS that VDOT has receivednumerouss calls and emails about the issue.

At the moment, however, there isn’t much they can do.

They've been working to move the lot but it’s easier said than done. It all comes down to money they don’t have.

While they’ve been busy reading and noting parents comments and concerns, Rob Cary, the DistrictAdministratorr is replying to each one.

“As I know you are aware, the safety of the children at the school has always been a concern for all parties involved and VDOT has installed extensive fencing and signage to address these concerns on our property.  In addition, we have been actively working with Montgomery County, the Town of Christiansburg, and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) to explore the feasibility of providing a new park and ride in the area if funding for such a park and ride lot were to become available. 

 This long-term solution obviously will require significant funding to implement.  The funding for such a project is allocated by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in the Six Year Improvement Plan (SYIP).  As part of the process of developing the SYIP, the CTB will receive public comments regarding funding and priorities at a public hearing this spring.  After these meetings, which are held across the state, the CTB determines which needed projects will be built and allocates the available funding to these priority projects when they approve the next SYIP which will take effect on July 1, 2014.  Until funding is allocated by the CTB, VDOT will not be able to pursue building a new park and ride lot.  I would strongly encourage you and other citizens to organize and attend the hearing this spring to express your concerns directly to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.  As I a parent to two children, I certainly understand your concerns and am committed to finding solutions to address them.”

Bond says it is important to let the community know that they want to work together with the school and the community to resolve the issue.

"We are certainly aware of your concerns. We've been working to try to look at the feasibility of moving the park and ride lot ultimately. It's a matter of funding and its going to take time," Bond said.

The money must first be approved by the State Commonwealth Transportation board.

 In the spring concerned parents will get their chance to argue their case to the board.

Bond stressed the importance of addressing the board. He says in order to receive the funds needed to move the park and ride, the board must see a great public demand for the project.

As of now, a date hasn’t been set. WSLS will continue to keep you updated with the latest.

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