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Merrimon Widening Comment

Matt: There are better ways to improve traffic flow than widening it to a 5 lane highway

From: Pickett, Matt
Date: Sun, Jan 28, 2018 at 10:34 AM
Subject: STIP Projects U-5781 and U-5782
To: “kbereis@hntb.com” <kbereis@hntb.com>, “mgclark@ncdot.gov” <mgclark@ncdot.gov>, “chood@ncdot.gov” <chood@ncdot.gov>

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing to express my concern on the project referenced above to widen Merrimon Ave.  As a resident in North Asheville for 14 years, I use Merrimon Ave on a daily basis to get to and from work both by bicycle and automobile and agree that the street could be designed to better accommodate traffic.  However, there are better ways to improve traffic flow than widening it to a 5 lane highway.

My biggest concern is that a 5-lane design does not take into account pedestrian or bicycle traffic.  I bike commute to work 1-2 days per week on Merrimon Ave (I work in South Asheville so use the entire corridor), and almost daily walk or ride my bike to local businesses.  While I see your current design does have a bike lane, it does not meet NCDOT width specifications as it is a two-foot lane that includes the curb and gutter.

Another concern is the greenway connection at WT Weaver and Merrimon Ave.  This would be a great opportunity to install a tunnel connecting the greenways under the road.  If users would be able to avoid the intersection all together, the intersection would be safer and encourage more usage on the greenway as a whole.  I know the greenway is part of the city’s master plan for a better, more connected greenway system, and this would be a great opportunity to make that system even better.

The best solution would be a road diet, consisting of 5.5’ sidewalks, 5’ bike lines and 11’ drive lanes on each side of a 12’ center turn lane.  While the speed through Merrimon might decrease, this design includes multiple modes of transportation, encourages active and public transportation, and most importantly, sets the stage for what the North Asheville community, and Asheville in general, want their city to be.  North Asheville needs to maintain it’s sense of community and uniqueness and not have a 5 lane thoroughfare running right down the heart of it.  We already have I-26 to connect quickly to Weaverville and beyond, and have a 4 lane highway running north with Broadway.  Merrimon should be a “neighborhood collector” not an “Arterial road”.

A large reason I live here is because Asheville is a progressive city.  Adding to the city’s inventory of bike lanes, greenways and sidewalks will promote this progress and lead to a more active, healthy and sustainable community.

Sincerely,

Matt Pickett