From: Jeannine Wynne
Date: Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 1:47 PM
Subject: Merrimon Avenue Project
Good Afternoon Mr. Hood,
I realize that your job is not easy and that you are trying to find what appears to be the most effective route for the least amount of tax dollars spent with a goal to keep traffic moving smoothly on the State Roads. But I think sometimes a larger viewpoint needs to be taken as to the greater community and what benefits the area the most. The proposed Merrimon Avenue Project looks familiar in structure because it has been used in other sections of the Greater Asheville area, and in most cases the original goal of “moving people faster” either doesn’t actually come to fruition or causes more of a hindrance with an increase in accidents. I live off of Hendersonville Road and I do travel on Merrimon Avenue for work and personal reasons. I feel much frustration at Hendersonville road as far as it’s layout. It’s not conducive to the residents and neighborhoods that it should be primarily providing for – instead of sidewalks and bike lanes and the ease of access to the businesses along that stretch of road, it feels more like a frustrating stretch of highway that was only mean to get people from Asheville to I-26 (not even all the way to Hendersonville as most people exit off way prior to reaching that town) and not considering the communities, businesses and residents that sit on either side of that portion of Hwy 25. In an effort to keep down accidents, traffic lights are added, which deter from the original intent of “moving people faster”. That makes me think that by wanting to take this concept and apply it to Merrimon Avenue/Hwy 25 on the other side of Asheville is because it must be, to the bottom line, “more affordable.”
But will it really be more affordable in the long run? If there is a decrease in the amount of business done to the smaller shops and restaurants during construction, hindrances and “imminent domain usage” of residential neighborhoods to complete, and an increase in potential accidents and fatalities – is it really what makes the most economic sense for both DOT and the taxpayers who are using Merrimon? Asheville as a community is growing, and I understand that the roads need to grow with it. As a vehicular commuter, I am not immune to the frustrations of increased traffic and waiting as someone make a “left hand turn” on Merrimon. But would I want to arrive to my destination of in the Beaver Lake/Woodfin area thirty seconds faster if I knew that it would cause someone’s life? If we continue to grow as a city, will we not “outgrow” the productiveness of the speed factor that is the base concept of this project in a few years?
Are there not alternate solutions for this project that would include a “complete street” and not just focus on cars? That would allow pedestrians and bike usage safely? That might even take into account the City planning along Merrimon (NCDOT’s 2009 Complete Street Policy), the City of Asheville Comprehensive Bicycle Plan, the Glenn’s Creek Greenway connection, and an alternative to Clearview Terrace that will not take away someone’s home?
I understand that the “concept” of a state road is to move people from Point A to Point B – but when you ignore the neighborhoods around it, the people who use it, and the businesses that border it, you might as well just build a freeway that doesn’t connect to anyone or anything but those Point A and Point B. Merrimon Ave is a vital artery in North Asheville and is used by locals and tourists alike to get to scenic areas, to get to churches, libraries, restaurants, grocery stores and to get home. I think all who use that road have the same basic notion that we want to do that safely for both ourselves, our fellow drivers, pedestrians, and bus and bike commuters. Thank you, Mr. Hood, for your time and consideration. I appreciate you and your committee listening to the viewpoints of the public and taking it into consideration. I hope that you will re-evaluate the proposed project and look at alternative options that will be of benefit to all who use Merrimon.