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Merrimon Widening Comment

Rob: I’m writing to express my fervent opposition to the proposed plan for widening Merrimon Avenue

From: Rob Winger
Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 1:23 PM
Subject: Comments on the Merrimon Avenue widening project in Asheville
To: kbereis@hntb.com

Dear Kim Bereis:
As an Asheville resident, I’m writing to express my fervent opposition to the proposed plan for widening Merrimon Avenue. The plan appears to only consider, and clearly prioritizes, through traffic for automobiles at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists, residents and business who use or are impacted by that roadway. The proposed changes are not to just a state highway, but a primary corridor through an area with high density residential neighborhoods, a nearby university, and numerous small businesses. Traffic along Merrimon travels through a community whose desires, needs and safety must be carefully considered.
Due to the proximity to UNCA and numerous residences, many of the people on Merrimon are not in cars. The popular Glenn’s Creek Greenway crosses Merrimon in the plan zone, further increasing pedestrian and bicycle traffic. However, the proposal only accounts for the flow cars traveling through this congested area, giving them more room to drive faster, yet providing no additional space for bicycles and putting pedestrians at risk to cross a wider road with faster traffic. The plan certainly does not represent “the Department’s commitment 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”. Why did NCDOT not evaluate the service level of the proposal for pedestrians and cyclists in the area and focus only cars? Why were no alternative proposals presented to residents?
Please understand this proposal is not merely changing a highway, but impacting neighborhoods where people and their families live, work and recreate. I understand the frustration of slow traffic, but this proposal reduces the safety of the community so cars can travel marginally faster for a few blocks. The trade-off is just not worth it.
Sincerely,
Jonathan R. Winger