A discussion of the transportation infrastructure is one of the requirements of the Code of Virginia concerning Comprehensive Plans. In addition to roadways, the transportation section includes a discussion of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, railways, air and public transportation.
Transportation plays an important role in influencing growth patterns. The closest access from Monterey to the Interstate highway system is either a 1 1/2 hour drive to the south (I-64) or a 1 hour drive to the east (I-81).
Existing Transportation Facilities
There are no Interstate highways in Highland County. There are three State Highways in the county that are considered “primary roads”. A primary road provides service that is relatively continuous and of relatively high traffic volume, long average trip length, high operating speed and high mobility importance.
The three primary roads are:
• U.S. 250: the main east-west artery through Highland County (and Monterey). U.S. 250 provides a direct connection to I-81 to the east and to I-79 in West Virginia.
• U.S. 220: runs north-south through the county (and Monterey) and provides a direct connection to I-64 south of Bath County.
•State Route 84: serves the southwestern portion of the county, running from West Virginia to its intersection with U.S. 220 three miles south of Monterey.
There are also more than 213 miles of secondary roads within the county that collect and distribute traffic between local roads and primary roads (Map #31-36).
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) maintains all of the primary and secondary roads in the county, including snow removal.
Highland County participates in VDOT’s Six-year Improvement Program that designates expenditures for construction/improvements of the secondary road system. These monies are generally targeted for repair, paving and bridge improvements throughout the county. The Six-year Improvement Program is updated annually.
Since 2001, traffic volumes on primary roads have been increasing. U.S. 220 north of Monterey has seen a 53.1% increase in volume, while U.S. 220 south of Monterey has experienced a 23.1% increase.
According to the 2000 Census, 73% of the work trips which originate in Highland County also end within the county. An additional 7% of commuter trips end in Bath County. Of the remaining 20%, most commuter trips end either within the Shenandoah Valley to the east, or within adjacent counties in West Virginia. Only about 12% of the workers in Highland County live outside of the Highland-Bath sub-region.
Currently, the Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS) houses one vehicle in Highland County.
There are no operating railroads within Highland County. The nearest railroad is the CSX line in southeastern Bath County. Passenger rail service is available in Staunton.
There are no public aviation facilities in Highland county. One privately owned airstrip is located south of Monterey, however, this facility is not available for general or commercial aviation.
The nearest public airfield is Ingalls Field in Bath County. It can accommodate aircraft the size of a DC-9 and smaller. There is no scheduled commercial service, but general aviation and charter services are provided. Commercial service is provided by the Roanoke Regional Airport, Charlottesville Regional Airport and Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport at Weyers Cave.
There are no designated bikeways in the county. Three popular mountain bike loop trails are listed in Appendix C, Recreational Routes. The “Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge” has been held on the first Saturday in August annually since 2001. This event attracts over 200 cyclists from all over the country. The Challenge features four road bike routes based on level of difficulty.
Highland County is graced with beautiful mountains, wooded areas and an abundance of outdoor recreation potential. Hiking is available throughout the county and is an important part of the tourist industry for the area. A list of hiking trails and “themed” routes including historic, birding and wildflower opportunities are provided in Appendix C.
The sidewalk system within the Town of Monterey is used by most residents who walk to complete their errands in town as well as by visitors following the historic walking tour. A new sidewalk / bike path project is currently underway which will provide connectivity from the Town to the Highland County School Complex and the new recreation area adjacent to the school.
The Commonwealth of Virginia, in cooperation with the Commission of Outdoor Recreation, is authorized to designate existing roads of high scenic, aesthetic or cultural value as Scenic Byways. Local governments must adopt a resolution of support. At the present, Highland County has not designated scenic byways. See further discussion under the “Land Use” section of this plan.
The issue of transportation for the elderly, disabled or economically disadvantaged residents is a critical issue in Highland County.
Highland County has experienced an increase in the volume of motorcycle traffic over the past few years. This is an important component of Highland County’s expanding tourism industry.
Regional Bicycle Plan
With funding through VDOT’s Rural Transportation Planning Assistance Grant Program, the CSPDC prepared The Central Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Plan. The Plan identifies a regional network of on-road bikeways to connect and enhance the historic, cultural and recreational resources of the region. The Plan was adopted by Highland County in December 2005.
VDOT also publishes an official state bicycling map called “Bicycling in Virginia”. No designated bike routes are shown in Highland County.