Asheville On Bikes

Asheville Eyes New Greenways, Sidewalks

Capital improvements in the plan would be financed by part of a tax increase City Council approved last year, borrowing, grant funds and other revenue.

City government would build at least three new greenways, accelerate resurfacing of city streets, add miles of new sidewalk and take on several other capital projects under a plan staffers are forming.

The city would build about $132 million in capital improvements over the next five years as part of the plan, to be financed by part of a tax increase City Council approved last year, borrowing, grant funds and other city revenue.

That would be roughly triple the $41.8 million the city spent on new construction, maintenance and new equipment during the previous five fiscal years, city Finance Director Barbara Whitehorn told City Council during a discussion of the plan Tuesday. The net cost to the city over the next five years would be a little less than $90 million.

Council members said they are generally in agreement with the plan, although some members would like to shift sidewalk spending from major streets to those in neighborhoods.

Major projects that would be funded over five years include:

• A wide variety of transportation improvements in the River Arts District with a total cost of $22 million. Much of that would come from federal funds.

• Street paving. The city would spend $2 million a year, or a total of $10 million.

• Improvements to public safety radios and related infrastructure. $6.8 million.

• Parks and playgrounds. $4.9 million.

• New sidewalks along Hendersonville Road and Leicester Highway. The total cost would be $7.7 million, with about $6 million coming from the state Department of Transportation.

• Greenways paralleling Clingman Avenue and Town Branch, which runs east from Depot Street, and along the west side of the French Broad River south of Haywood Road. $5 million.

• Sidewalk and bicycle improvements along Charlotte Street north of Interstate 240. $3.8 million.

In recent years, the city has spent $800,000 a year on street paving, City Manager Gary Jackson said, although the 2103-14 budget allocated $1.6 million.

That’s been a concern because the smaller amount resulted in city streets being repaved only every 60-80 years, city staffers told council.

With the increased spending, “We hope we’re getting down to the 30-35 year (repaving) cycle,” Public Works Director Greg Shuler said.

Council will probably only be asked to approve one year of the plan at a time, Whitehorn said. She said the plan should be “a living document” subject to change and reviewed every six to 12 months.