Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
In transportation there's several recent initiatives that our regional commission and our local governments have been involved with, and that's really looking at creating more transit connections. And a really great example from a regional perspective is a service we call the Smartway, and it connects three regions in southwest Virginia and stretches from Blacksburg, Virginia, in the west, connects to Roanoke as well, going all the way to Lynchburg. And the great thing about this is it connects Virginia Tech campus, with over 20,000 students, with a regional airport in Roanoke, then also taking them to Lynchburg, where we have access to Amtrak and which ... actually took Amtrak here to Washington, DC, for this meeting.
And that's not something that our region has really been able to take full advantage of, but we've been able to provide planning and the numbers and justification for this type of service. And once it started, its viability just grew tremendously. And the Amtrak service from our region next to us was just started about a year ago. It was an extension to Lynchburg, and that service has gone beyond what anyone's expectations of what it could do. And to coordinate with that, we really are looking also at really connecting our rural areas with transit service, especially for those that need health care and employment. And it's another key area where livability is a primary importance for those that are losing employment or are getting older and need higher and higher amounts of health care.