Concerned neighbors gathered Tuesday night, January 23rd, at a presentation hosted by Open Streets Asheville which offered alternatives to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)’s current design proposal to widen nearby Merrimon Avenue. The NCDOT proposal calls for the addition of a continuous turn lane south of Gracelyn Avenue to W.T. Weaver Boulevard, a 36% increase in roadway width. Clark Mackey, a local business owner and bicyclist who has worked to improve the area transportation network, presented his thoughts and data from national highway research on the design proposed and related topics.
Discussion lasted the full two-hour period allotted among the thirty attendees, and took place in the North Asheville Recreation Center building where NCDOT held its open house to reveal the Merrimon Avenue design on January 8. Open Streets is offering another showing of the presentation by Mr. Mackey this Saturday, January 27 from 4 to 6 PM, at the same location.
Among others concerns, residents report feeling that NCDOT District 13’s proposed design is not justified by traffic volume or by improvements for pedestrian safety. With Asheville leading North Carolina’s cities in pedestrian deaths (NCDOT data), NCDOT’s failure to improve pedestrian infrastructure in this design is unexpected. The current proposal resulted after evaluation of levels of service for automobiles, but not for bicyclists and pedestrians. This surprises many given NCDOT’s adoption of a Complete Streets Policy in which non-motorized users are also accommodated in roadway design. While these items received much discussion, there exist many additional concerns.
All public comment must be submitted to NCDOT by January 29. Organizations may also submit a comment. Comments may be mailed by US mail or emailed. We recommend emailing your comment to: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; and firstname.lastname@example.org, copying email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Please reference: STIP Project No’s U-5781 and U-5782.
Those interested in learning more about the current NCDOT design proposal for Merrimon Avenue, local concerns, and other strategies that may solve documented challenges more safely & efficiently are invited to attend this Saturday’s Merrimon Avenue Feedback Party. We encourage you to share this information widely.