Tactical Urbanism

Coxe Avenue Project Update – Mural Removal on 8-24

We are writing to update interested readers on the state of the Coxe Avenue Tactical Urbanism Project, which remains in place on the South Slope, near downtown Asheville.

Short summary: We are removing the mural and blue painted section of the project this coming Monday morning, with paid support from the City of Asheville. There will be a full street closure on Monday, 8/24, ending when work is complete. This work includes a parking closure for the on-street spaces between Buxton and Banks, effective from the evening of 8/23 through the day of 8/24. This work area is adjacent to Wicked Weed, the Chemist, Tasty Beverage, 150 Coxe Avenue, the Lofts, and Swannanoa Cleaners. Please do not park in those spaces during the parking closure. The mural is being removed because it has continued to fade to the point that it has become an eyesore. The rest of the Coxe Avenue tactical urbanism project is holding up well and is to remain in place, as per the request from the City of Asheville.

This project successfully lowered the average and top speeds of traffic on Coxe Avenue, without affecting throughput, while creating additional space in the public right of way for walking and biking. You can read all about it in the project report.

Chart: Coxe Ave average auto speed reduced to 26 mph

Notes from recent project history

As originally planned, this project was intended to be a temporary project, to be removed as part of the City’s work to rebuild Coxe Avenue. Our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Asheville lasts for two years and it expires in November 2020. As time has gone by, the City has delayed its planning work on the Coxe Avenue redesign, and though that redesign is still planned, the timing of the street rebuild is not known.

Because of that delay, and because of requests sent to the City of Asheville from the South Slope Neighborhood Association, on Feb 26, 2020 the Multi-Modal Transportation Commission and the City of Asheville formally asked the Street Tweaks team to remove the project. As we prepared for that work to begin, the City reversed that position and asked the Street Tweaks Team to leave this project in place because it allows for easy social distancing and functions as one of the most pedestrian-friendly streets in downtown Asheville.

We are pleased that this project, in addition to providing the benefits documented in our study, is also able to serve double duty and allow for safer social distancing in the public right of way. There is no compelling reason to remove the multi-use path or other remaining safety elements of the project at this time.

Mural removal

Even though the project continues to function as designed, providing increased safety and quality of life benefits to all users of the street, it’s very obvious that daily traffic is wearing out the butterfly mural. After complaints from the South Slope Residents Association about the fading mural, the City of Asheville asked the Street Tweaks Team to remove the street mural as part of our support of the project.

The Street Tweaks team has evaluated several different removal options for the mural, including sand blasting, traditional pressure washing, painting over the mural with asphalt-colored paint, application of graffiti-removal sprays to weaken the paint, and heated pressure washing. During the course of evaluating those options, it became obvious that some of the most expensive and difficult to source equipment was already owned by the City of Asheville. As a result, the Street Tweaks team agreed to hire the City of Asheville as a contractor, to provide heated pressure washing equipment with scrubbers and a vacuum truck for the day of removal. The City of Asheville is being fully compensated for their work at market rates and we appreciate their willingness to assist the project as a paid contractor.

This work will begin in the early hours of the morning on Monday, 8/24/2020, and will remove only the mural as it exists between Banks and Buxton.

Future of the project

We’re happy that the project has lived on to provide additional benefits on the corridor during this pandemic. Thank you for your support and patience as we remove the mural.