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Merrimon Widening Comment

Kit: I oppose the current NCDOT Division proposal

From: Kit Hayes
Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 4:44 PM
Subject: I oppose the current NCDOT Division proposal regarding “Merrimon Ave Intersection Improvements at Edgewood through WT Weaver Boulevard.”
To: kbereis@hntb.com

Good afternoon Ms. Bereis,

My name is Kathryn Hayes and I am a resident of Weaverville, NC who works in Asheville, NC. I have reviewed the proposal for  “Merrimon Ave Intersection Improvements at Edgewood through WT Weaver Boulevard” made at the January 8th meeting and oppose these designs as presented on the following grounds:
A. The proposed 40mph design speed is dangerous for this road. This section of Merrimon is already unsafe at 35mph speeds, and increasing the speed would likely result in more traffic injuries as well as deter pedestrians and bicycle transportation, which we need to encourage more of, not less of.
B. The proposed design ignores and contradicts the NCDOT’s own Complete Streets Policy by not working with the city, not listening to city residents, and by failing to do what is stated in the policy, which is to “collaborate with cities, towns, and communities to ensure pedestrian, bicycle, and transit options are included as an integral part of their total transportation vision. As a partner in the development and realization of their visions, the Department desires to assist localities, through the facilitation of long-range planning, to optimize connectivity, network interdependence, context sensitive options, and multimodal alternatives.”
C. The bike lanes proposed are not bike lanes, they are gutters. A 2-foot width for a bike lane is simply unsafe and unrideable – have you tried riding in a 2-foot space next to traffic? The average width of bicycle handlebars is 44 to 54cm, or 17 to 21 inches…..leaving a 3-inch cushion. Considering that NC state law requires a 4-foot space when passing a vehicle, this is unlawful and unpractical.
D. Increasing road width to 75 feet would be detrimental to businesses and residents along the corridor. The current plans would likely cause several local businesses in this stretch to close permanently. They can expect months of reduced revenue during construction.
E. Traffic has not increased significantly over the past 10 years despite a booming population – we need to improve Merrimon NOT to encourage more car traffic, but improve it to make the road safer and more usable for all road users: pedestrians, bicyclists, and car drivers.
I strongly encourage NCDOT to revisit these plans and look at safer, more practical alternatives, including a roadway using a “road diet” model that maintains a 61 foot total width, reducing car lanes to one each way plus a turn lane, implementing recommended 5′ width bike lanes and sidewalks and greenway connections, etc. You should work with the City as per your own policy and look at this plan http://www.completestreetsnc.org/wp-content/themes/CompleteStreets_Custom/pdfs/NCDOT-Complete-Streets-Planning-Design-Guidelines-Appendices.pdf and this plan http://www.ashevillenc.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=22784 and this plan http://www.ashevillenc.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=26521 as guides.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing some better alternatives that actually help the city’s residents and businesses.
Kathryn Hayes