Sunday, January 27, 2013
Smart Road link is just plain smart
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From the RoundTable blog
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William H. Fralin Jr.
Fralin. of Roanoke, is president and CEO of Medical Facilities of America Inc.
It was most surprising to learn that it has become the editorial position of The Roanoke Times to no longer enthusiastically support the building of the Smart Road ("County makes a silly Smart Road request," Jan. 20 editorial, The Burgs). In fact, apparently the region should just throw in the towel on ever getting this important project finished and sit back and accept whatever road improvements the state deigns to give us.
Why chase "pipe dreams" when there are smaller (and more accessible) fish to catch?
I can only hope the editorial was a snide attempt to get folks thinking about the region's future through an illustration of absurdity.
As the largest locality in the commonwealth without a state-sponsored four-year university, linking Roanoke's fate to Virginia Tech is so vital to our future development that, contrary to letting it die on the vine, we should all be pressing our political leaders to get this road built.
It is also vital to Blacksburg and the New River Valley to have links to the infrastructure and economic opportunities in the Roanoke Valley. The Montgomery County supervisors understand this.
Links between our valleys include the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, the Roanoke Higher Education Center and the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center in Roanoke as well as educational opportunities, cultural amenities (like the new performing arts complex) and athletic events at Virginia Tech, just to name a few.
Increasingly, our valleys have become bedroom communities of each other with traffic flowing both ways. A 10-minute reduction in commute time may not seem like much in the abstract, but in practice would add up to two hours a week and an extra eight-hour work day per month.
I would argue that it is the lack of vision and political support as demonstrated by the attitude expressed in the editorial that has allowed this project to die on the vine. This is particularly distressing when one learns that the right of way has already been purchased.
What could we do if we all got behind this project? Could this be the first leg of Interstate 73 in Virginia? Could this be yet another project that demonstrates what we could do as two united valleys? Working together, we can and should make this happen.