Westwood Place and Waynesville Ave Tactical Urbanism Project in West Asheville

Project design satellite view

Our next Street Tweaks project is moving forward towards a final design. We have met with the City, with the East West Asheville Neighborhood Association (EWANA), with the West Asheville Business Association (WABA) and with some neighbors to plan a neighborhood traffic circle for the intersection of Waynesville and Westwood Ave. We have made some adjustments to our planning process to lessen the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 and posted signage at the intersection, describing the project and asking for feedback.

Work is anticipated to begin Summer 2021

Current designs:


Map of intersection, satellite viewPhoto of intersection of Westwood Pl and Waynesville Ave

About this project:

In Summer 2021 the Street Tweaks Team intends to begin work on the installation of a tactical urbanism project at the intersection of Waynesville Avenue and Westwood Place, behind the Walk. This project will be an intersection improvement consisting of a neighborhood traffic circle, crosswalks, and other related changes. The design is not yet finalized as of 1/27/2021 but the City has indicated that our proposal meets their requirements.

Why this location?

We identified this location when looking for intersections in walkable areas that highlight how dangerous our City is to pedestrians and bicycle riders. This intersection, as currently designed, allows cars to turn at high speeds across the paths of pedestrians, bicycle riders, and other cars. Though a large number of people walk through the area each day, the street contains no crosswalks or safety markings (other than center lines). It is also wide, increasing the danger to all who pass through the area. We approached the East Asheville Neighborhood Association (EWANA) and the West Asheville Business Association (WABA) to solicit support for the project. Each group responded favorably. That support and unsafe conditions led us to select this site for a test of a neighborhood traffic circle.

What are the details of the project as it exists so far?

Who is involved? The project will be created and installed by the Street Tweaks Team with the help of neighborhood, WABA, and EWANA volunteers. It will be approved by the City of Asheville before installation, including a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) describing the project.
What is it? A neighborhood traffic circle, installed by volunteers, after gaining City approval
Where? At the intersection of Westwood Place and Waynesville Ave in East West Asheville, behind the Walk.
When? The Street Tweaks Team intends to begin work Summer 2021.
Why? To improve neighborhood and pedestrian safety
How? Using a tactical urbanism model, volunteers, and temporary materials, test a different intersection configuration
How long will it last? 1 year
What is tactical urbanism? Click here to find out.

Where are you in the process?

We gathered public feedback about our designs. That feedback will be used to settle on a final design and build plan. The technical constraints of the street at this intersection limit this project, in terms of types of infrastructure that can be built. Feedback from the City was essential so that we could present a design that met all the City’s requirements. The City has indicated that our final design meets their requirements.

Our first public meeting was held on Jun 26, 2019 to solicit feedback about this intersection. That meeting confirmed our findings about people who were walking between the neighborhood and the businesses and schools nearby. During the winter of 2019, we worked on proposed designs with the City of Asheville.

Our second public meeting was held on March 8th, 2020. A tent staffed by volunteers was set up at the intersections and we answered questions, showed designs, and walked the intersection with attendees.

Our rolling survey for feedback, a 3rd round of public input, happened during late May and early June 2020.

Once our final design meets the requirements of City staff, we will seek approval for this project from the Multi-Modal Transit Committee and the City Manager’s office. We plan to work toward installing this project in Summer 2021.

Learn more about the resident artist of this project, Leslie Rosenberg:

How did we come up with the design?:

This design was the result of public input that inquired about people’s visceral experiences while on the project site. Artist Leslie Rosenberg compiled and sifted through the public input and was inspired to create the current design which, as Rosenberg shares, “Christopher’s Garden, which formerly occupied this intersection, holds a special place in people’s hearts. Christopher’s blue bottle trees and the flora and fauna that seem to overflow onto the sidewalks in this intersection were reoccurring input themes. The goldfinch and milkweed along with the blue bottles seemed an apt snapshot of the intersection, giving the work both a place-based context and a sense of community collaboration.”

Leslie Rosenberg is a Citizen-Artist and catalyst for collective creativity. Having taught K-12 visual art, adventure therapy to at-risk teens, and currently, a shop manager at UNCA’s STEAM Studio makers’ space, Leslie considers herself both a teacher and student of experience. She is most excited about work that brings together disparate groups towards a common goal of beauty, connection, meaning, and justice. Her work with Art of Belonging takes the discipline of visual art and design and uses it to affect collective change.

Evolution of our design

Our designs for this project evolved as we worked with City staff and our team to come up with a plan that will meet all existing regulations, is likely to be an improvement from existing conditions, and that we can install with temporary materials. This graphic shows the process:

Animated gif of evolving traffic circle designs

You can view our current, not yet approved, draft design here as a pdf.

How dangerous is Asheville?

We continue to rank among the most dangerous cities in North Carolina for pedestrians and bicyclists. In January 2020 alone, 4 pedestrians were killed in different crashes across the City.

Asheville is first in pedestrian deaths per capita in North Carolina, as written up in an excellent article from the Citizen-Times on 3/4/2020.

Map of Asheville showing bike and pedestrian injuries. Also showing auto any fatal collision, including auto.Chart: Coxe Ave average auto speed reduced to 26 mph

Want to dive deeper? Spend a few minutes looking over the map of fatalities (all collisions) and bicycle pedestrian injuries (bike/ped) for our area, built with publicly available NCDOT data. Keep in mind that bicycle / pedestrian injuries, when studied nationwide, are often under-reported. This happens because our method of reporting emphasizes collisions with severe injuries that involved a motor vehicle. Lesser injuries and collisions with no EMS response often go unreported.

Photos from this project during the planning phase:

 

 

 

Special thanks to:

      1. Art of Belonging, Leslie Rosenberg
      2. Wood Environment and Infrastructure, Tony Hauser
      3. Fusco Landplanning & Design, Matt Fusco
      4. Insite Collaborative, Craig Ruhland, PAS President
      5. East West Asheville Neighborhood Association
      6. West Asheville Business Association

Partially funded by grants from:

      1. People for Bikes
      2. Blue Ridge Bicycle Club
      3. AARP, NC, Mountain Region

Project downloads and key links:

For further reading: