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Merrimon Widening Comment

Kari: Citizens of Asheville have spoken – we want safe, environmentally friendly, public-health-friendly, multi-modal transportation

From: Kari Richmond
> Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 11:02 AM
> Subject: Comments on Project U-4781 & U-5782, Merrimon Ave. Asheville
> To: kbereis@hntb.com
>
> Dear Kim Bereis,
>
> I am writing to you as a resident of Asheville, a business owner, a wife of a UNCA employee, a mother, and a friend to many who live in the vicinity of UNCA.  I am a member of Asheville on Bikes and an advocate for multi-modal transportation.  I am submitting the following comments regarding NCDOT’s initial designs for the proposed widening of Merrimon Ave, project U-5781 & U-5782.
>
> I have looked at the map/graphic of the proposed changes to Merrimon Avenue.  I drive the relevant stretch of road weekly, and my husband drives on it nearly every day.  It certainly needs updating and widening, but I am not satisfied with the NCDOT proposed changes.
>
> We do NOT need to make it easier for motor vehicles to drive that stretch of road at a higher speed.  It is densely lined with retail businesses, banks, and restaurants that receive high levels of traffic.  And the thoroughfare is bounded by densely arranged apartment buildings and homes, which further increases the traffic.  Merrimon Avenue may serve as a commuter route for some, but commuters need to resign themselves to a max speed limit of 30 mph, with 20-25 mph being preferable, just to account for safety of pedestrians and cars turning in and out of the parking lots of businesses and residential neighborhoods.
>
> This entire area should be served with motor-traffic-calming measures and infrastructure, while providing protected bike lanes, better sidewalks, and other infrastructure that will support biking, walking, and other non-motor traffic.  Supporting multi-modal transportation will make the entire area much safer, quieter, and more pleasant for the residents of the area, UNCA students, faculty, and staff, and motor vehicle traffic.
>
> Most concerning to me is the fact that NCDOT did not appear to take into account the pre-existing planning and policies of the City of Asheville in its current project plans.  NCDOT must plan in partnership with the City of Asheville’s Transportation department, and follow the planning and guidelines in the Asheville in Motion plan, the Asheville City 2025 Plan, and the NCDOT Community Characteristics Report, and any other pre-existing agreements for communication and cooperation with the City of Asheville.  The citizens of Asheville have spoken – we want safe, environmentally friendly, public-health-friendly, multi-modal transportation.  Our City leaders have listened and planned and organized… and North Carolina DOT must take these plans and desires into account in its projects!
>
> As you go about widening Merrimon Avenue, I ask that you include wider lanes – at least 14 feet wide if a lane is to be shared with bikes.  I strongly prefer a dedicated bicycle lane with physical barriers against motor vehicles.  We also must have wider and more frequently placed pedestrian crossings.  If the infrastructure is provided, people in this city are desperate to use bicycles and other non-traditional vehicles to commute to school and work. Tourists come here to enjoy the outdoor living aspect of our beautiful city, and they will also enjoy biking and walking to enjoy the many businesses and restaurants in this area of Merrimon Avenue.
>
> Please, work with the plans we already have in place, including:
>         • NCDOT’s Complete Street and Vision Zero policies
>         • AASHTO’s (American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials) bicycle facilities standards
>         • City of Asheville’s (COA) Asheville in Motion (AIM), 2025 Comprehensive Plan, Asheville Greenway Master Plan, and the Community Characteristics Report, Proposed Interchange Project, Tip No. U-4013.1.1 US 25 (Merrimon Ave), King St to Maney Ave: Operational Improvements, City of Asheville, Buncombe County
>
> And please include in your project coordination:
>         • An analysis of pedestrian and bicyclists level of service (LOS)
>         • A continuous connection for the Glen’s Creek Greenway at WT Weaver
>         • COA’s planning and transportation departments in the development of the redesign
>         • A community working group made up of corridor neighbors and business leaders, active transportation advocates, and city transportation and planning staff to provide input during the re-design of the project
>         • A charrette approach to public input throughout the redesign process.
>
> Thank you for your time.  I look forward to biking along Merrimon Avenue with my kids in relative safety in the next couple of years!
>
> Kari Richmond