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Merrimon Widening Comment

Martha: Walking to nearby businesses is a scary and difficult task but I attempt it. We need a renovation that addresses that problem not make it worse.

From: martha skinner
Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 8:59 PM
Subject: Merrimon Ave Intersection Improvements at Edgewood through WT Weaver Boulevard
To: kbereis@hntb.com

Dear Kim Bereis,

I am a professional with a background in architecture and urban planning. I am also a resident of Asheville. I live off of Merrimon Avenue.

I am in opposition to NCDOT’s proposed widening of Merrimon Avenue (project U-5781 & U-5782), as currently proposed. It doesn’t take into consideration pedestrians, bikes, and the fabric of neighborhoods linked to each other. Your proposal also ignores the recommendations of hard work by the people of this community who have proposed visions that do take into consideration all of the modes of movement that make a city inhabitable and safe.

I drive on Merrimon and I also attempt to walk to businesses near me. I do not ride my bike as I find it unfeasible and deadly at the moment. Walking to nearby businesses is a scary and difficult task but I attempt it. We need a renovation that addresses that problem not make it worse. Widening the street, making car traffic faster while not providing proper spaces for other moving participants is a travesty, extremely dangerous and damaging to community life. I have a personal friend who lost her son who was walking, to a driving car. Today my daughter wanted to walk to a park. I was afraid for her and discouraged her. The safety issue also extends to our health. Car controlled cities dampen the natural physical movement of residents. Our city is fairly small. So many of us could get to work and places by bike and walking and in that process exercise. This is not only healthy to our bodies, it also reduces the amount of cars on our streets, reducing emission gases which in turn also makes our cities safer. Unfortunately walking and riding a bike on Merrimon at the moment is not inviting or safe. In the NCDOT proposal it becomes impossible. Let’s instead imagine the safety and health improvement all around if our city was truly accessible to all forms of flow. We can easily change that.

I am thankful that there are community efforts with better proposals and with a thoughtful regard for people living here. Local planning experts and Asheville on Bikes have researched and explored this fully. I ask that their recommendations be incorporated into a redesign for our city that makes improvements not make our city less accessible, less desirable and more dangerous. I oppose the AS IS proposal by the NCDOT and would prefer nothing be done. I ask that this community and our work be engaged on this and let’s do something really great. Let’s do a project that will not only be safe for us residents but also be inspirational to other of our cities.

Sincerely,

Martha Skinner