To whom it may concern,
Absolutely do NOT widen Merrimon Ave. I have lived my entire life in Asheville and I have loved watching the city grow in the past 30 years. This is a crucial time in our development where our decisions will determine the type of city we are becoming.
As it stands traffic moves too quickly on Merrimon to accommodate the growing needs of pedestrian traffic. I have lived a few hundred feet from Merrimon avenue for the last 8 years. From my home I hear the all too often “crunch” of car crashes on this dangerous street. In my own life I have two dear friends that were hit by a car while riding a scooter down Merrimon by a car turning left across two lanes of traffic. One was thrown from the bike and landed safely (thanks helmets!) while the other was pinned down breaking his femur. On a separate occasion another dear friend was hit by a left turning car as he walked in the crosswalk with a walk signal. As is this street is already too dangerous, the idea of widening it further is disgraceful.
Four lanes are good for interstates, and for roads that are not in themselves a destination, but surely as Merrimon becomes a urban corridor we must plan to narrow it. Despite the only minor improvements to the sidewalks there continues to be more people walking, biking and riding the bus every year.
During my time a Warren Wilson College I had the great privileged of spending a semester abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland. There I lived just a short walk to the Falls Road. It is easy for me to see the parallels between the Falls road and 25. Both connect residential areas to the downtown, both have a hospital, both are full of businesses, and the distance across from property to property is similar. The Falls road really has two lanes for the most part, then it has pull offs for buses at all of the bus stops, and designated left turn lanes (okay technically right turn lanes because it is the UK) at intersections, the extra space being given to side walks. This road is full of pedestrians. It accommodates a huge amount of people with varying modes of transit. Of course a big part of what makes it all work so well is Belfast’s bus system. They have a huge fleet of buses, something I believe Asheville should aspire to. After all why would we aspire to have more traffic and more dangerous roads?
It is time to start thinking of Merrimon as a destination and not primarily a connector. The city is changing and it is our job to make it a better and safer place, not a more dangerous one.
Thank you for your time,