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Merrimon Widening Comment

Keaton: I oppose the Project as currently designed and ask that NCDOT’s Division 13 plan in partnership with the City of Asheville

From: Keaton Hill
Subject: Re: NCDOT Division 13, Merrimon Widening, TIP Numbers U-5781 and U-5782
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2018 15:02:17 -0500
I am a resident of Asheville, and am Emailing my public comment regarding the project to widen Merrimon Ave in Asheville, NC.  TIP Numbers U-5781 and U-5782
I oppose the Project as currently designed and ask that NCDOT’s Division 13 plan in partnership with the City of Asheville’s (COA) Transportation Department and incorporate existing COA plans into NCDOT planning.
I oppose the current design for several reasons, including:
  • Risk of pedestrian injury increased. A 5-lane road with a 40 mph design speed is more difficult to cross than the current road. Our current Merrimon recently took the life of one pedestrian, crossing at Coleman.
  • Several existing COA plans were not incorporated into NCDOT’s proposed Merrimon improvements.  The City has spent money and made a decade of planning changes (Rezoning, etc.) on Merrimon that contradict the nature of this design. These plans, based on countless hours of feedback from residents, have been ignored.
  • Alternates not presented. NCDOT has not presented alternate designs. For the design as a whole, alternates include a roadway with a lower design speed and narrower lanes. Alternates not presented also include a low impact road connection for Clearview Terrace that takes no homes.
  • Greenway improvement ignored. NCDOT is not proposing that the Glenn’s Creek Greenway connect, even though they are replacing the culvert and rebuilding the creek through the intersection of WT Weaver. They are putting back a version of the current (unsafe) Greenway connection. During construction, the historic property that UNCA owns on the corner of WT Weaver will be altered forever, via tree removal, grade changes, and a large retaining wall.
  • Business closures. Construction is likely to cause several local businesses in this stretch to close permanently. They can expect months of reduced revenue during construction.
  • Faster cars. Car speeds are going to dramatically increase because the design speed chosen will allow a driver to feel safe at speeds higher than 40 mph. During the public meeting NCDOT confirmed that a 40 mph design speed was used.
I urge the NCDOT Division 13 to follow existing NCDOT Transportation Policy regarding active transportation, including NCDOT’s Complete Street Policy and offer the public alternatives to the current Project that would connect greenways, provide for safe,  four- foot bike lanes; that would consider how to enhance bus or other alternative mass transit; and that would focus on enhancing Merrimon as a neighborhood connector rather than an arterial thru way.  
Sincerely,
Keaton Hill