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Merrimon Widening Comment

Connect Buncombe: This proposal does nothing to improve the connection of Glenn’s Creek Greenway

January 29, 2018
Mr. Mike Clark
NCDOT Division 13
55 Orange Street
Asheville, NC 28801
mgclark@ncdot.gov

Re: Merrimon Avenue Project #5782-US 25 Merrimon AV and W.T. Weaver Blvd

Dear Mr. Clark:
Connect Buncombe exists to advocate for the implementation of Buncombe County’s Master Plan for Greenways and Trails, a trail system that meets the needs for safe routes for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Recently NCDOT has publicly released a proposal for Project #5782 that includes modifications to the intersection of US 25 Merrimon AV and W.T. Weaver Blvd. This proposal does nothing to improve the connection of Glenn’s Creek Greenway east of Merrimon to the greenway west of Merrimon. As presented the proposal requires pedestrians and bicyclists to cross a road that would be about a third wider with higher vehicular movements and speeds without meeting stipulated design guidelines. We ask that you study this intersection better and present an improved design.

The City of Asheville (COA) has indicated their opposition to the proposal as submitted. Connect Buncombe supports the City Council’s concerns. We ask that NCDOT Division 13 incorporate state and local design guidelines for the Merrimon AV (and all future Buncombe County) street improvements. NCDOT should plan these street modifications in partnership with the City of Asheville’s Transportation Department and incorporate the following:

NCDOT’s 2009 Complete Streets policy states:

  • “The North Carolina Department of Transportation, in its role as stewards over the transportation infrastructure, is committed to: …working in partnership with local government agencies, interest groups, and the public to plan, fund, design, construct, and manage complete street networks that sustain mobility while accommodating walking, biking, and transit opportunities safely.”
  • “Providing an efficient multi-modal transportation network in North Carolina such that the access, mobility, and safety needs of motorists, transit users, bicyclists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities are safely accommodated.”

AASHTO Guidelines for the Development of Bicycle Facilities:

  • Adopted via NCDOT’s own Bicycle Policy as the accepted guidance. NCDOT’s Bicycle Policy states: “All bicycle transportation facilities approved by the Board of Transportation shall conform with the adopted “Design Guidelines for Bicycle Facilities” on state-funded projects.”

NCDOT’s Community Characteristics Report, US 25 (Merrimon Ave) King Street to Maney Avenue: Operational Improvements City of Asheville, Buncombe County (CCR), originally developed in 2009:

  • The report includes several recommendations, including the notation of a need for specialized trail crossings at W.T. Weaver Blvd to facilitate multi-use path. (p.11)

Asheville in Motion

  • Merrimon Ave is recognized in the Bicycle Framework Plan as a route “that serve(s) as a support system for primary routes.” (Asheville in Motion Plan, p.76)

Asheville City 2025 Plan

  • The need for a bicycle and pedestrian network is identified in the 2025 plan’s Transportation Vision. It states, “Vision: The City of Asheville will have a network of bicycle and pedestrian routes which are safe and provide reasonable transportation choice for its residents as outlined in the Asheville Greenway Master Plan and the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.” Buncombe County’s Master Plan for Greenways and Trails incorporates COA plans that develop a county-wide bike and pedestrian transportation system.

Connect Buncombe requests that NCDOT delay consideration of the Project; that the comment period be extended; that NCDOT consider input from Asheville elected officials; and that NCDOT host neighborhood meetings in order to hear from the public. We request alternatives to the Project that would fulfill connections of our existing greenways, and provide for the safety needs of all street users…automotive, transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Respectfully,
Robbie Sweetser, President Connect Buncombe
Friends of Connect Buncombe, Inc.
P.O. Box 16100
Asheville, NC 28816