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Merrimon Widening Comment

Cisco Pilates: I have always loved this area BECAUSE Merrimon Avenue is NOT like Hendersonville Road, Tunnel Road, and Patton

From: Cisco Pilates
Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 4:25 PM
Subject: Merrimon Avenue expansion project
To: kbereis@hntb.com

Dear Kim

I am writing to oppose the proposed plan for the Merrimon Avenue expansion in Asheville. I am a resident of the Five Points Neighborhood. I live one block from Merrimon Avenue and have lived in this neighborhood for 8 years. I have always loved this area BECAUSE Merrimon Avenue is NOT like Hendersonville Road, Tunnel Road, and Patton Avenue, and I regularly walk or ride my bike around my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods.
I was very sad to hear of the plans to add a turning lane to Merrimon Avenue. I cross Merrimon regularly on my bicycle or on foot. It is dangerous already. A pedestrian was killed not far from where I live as they were crossing Merrimon. Your plan to make the road wider and increase the speed limit is exceedingly more dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, and cars. I don’t even like driving on Merrimon Avenue as it is now, and certainly wouldn’t consider riding my bicycle on it at its current state. I have only ever crossed it on my bicycle. Your proposed plan only adds a two foot bicycle lane, at increased speeds of 40 mph. I have ridden my bicycle in conditions like this before and won’t ever do it again. It is scary and exceptionally dangerous.
I also love the Greenway and have ridden my bike and walked on it many times over the years. It is a lovely addition to our neighborhood and city. Crossing Merrimon is a challenge, and your plan does not improve that intersection. Additionally, Claxton Elementary, located at Hillside Street and Merrimon, seeing daily traffic of elementary school children crossing Merrimon Avenue. Even with the crossing guard, this is terrifying as it stands. Between people rushing in their cars, texting, talking on their phones, and other distractions, these children are not safe. We need to slow down Merrimon and get more cars onto the highway and less on to Merrimon to improve the safety of this intersection.
Merrimon Avenue needs to be made safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and cars. Increasing the speed limit does the opposite. If people want to get to and from North Asheville faster, there is a highway that runs parallel to Merrimon Avenue. I see no purpose in increasing Merrimon’s speed limit.
Making a suitable bike lane and better sidewalks, slowing down the speed limit, and allowing the left lane to become a turning lane will both slow down motorists, keep pedestrians safe, keep businesses open, and get more people on to the highway if they want to travel faster.
I am asking you to please communicate with the City of Asheville’s Transportation Department, as several key points from existing COA plans were omitted from the Merrimon expansion proposal. These include: 1) including bike lanes over 2 feet wide (Asheville in Motion page 76), 2) safe bicycle and pedestrian routes as outlined in the Asheville CIty 2025 plan, 3) Improving the intersection of Merrimon at WT Weaver Blvd as specified in NCDOT’s Community Characteristics Report
And additionally, following NCDOT’s Complete Street Policy, NCDOT’s Vision Zero Policy, and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials guidelines.
I urge you to take into consideration making these important changes to improve Merrimon Avenue for all of the surrounding residents to keep us safe and happy. Thank you for your time and for considering the needs of the residents of Asheville.