The announcement that the City of Asheville won $14.6 million in federal funding for transportation improvements in and around the River Arts District and adjacent neighborhoods advances the hard work and planning that has gone into that area. The TIGER VI award was announced September 12 during a visit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who called the East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project a “ladder of opportunity in the area.”
Transportation Secretary Foxx (left) with Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer at the Sept. 12 announcement at Jean Webb Park.
“These improvements will connect low and moderate income neighborhoods with jobs, neighborhood services and community assets in Asheville’s rapidly developing riverfront,” Foxx said. “With the help of TIGER, Asheville residents and visitors will soon have even greater access to their community, with the ability to bike and walk the city’s streets more safely and securely than before.” See all of Secretary Foxx’s comments here.
The grant award, and a one-to-one match from the city, means that a total of $29.2 million will go into pedestrian and bicycle improvements, traffic flow enhancements, connections to surrounding neighborhoods, greenways and an all around safer transportation experience in the river district, and in adjacent Southside, WECAN and East-West Asheville neighborhoods. Those goals are in line with national visions for enhanced, safe, multimodal transportation options.
The City of Asheville Department of Community and Economic Development and Transportation Department have worked closely with community stakeholders, residents and regulatory officials to coordinate efforts and resources in the riverway, and in 2010 secured a TIGER II grant. That money allowed the city to push forward with planning that was integral to bringing the TIGER VI funding to Asheville.
“We are still celebrating,” said Riverfront Coordinator Stephanie Monson Dahl. “This is a huge piece of the puzzle in the future of Asheville’s riverfront. A lot of people have put in a lot of time and energy into crafting visions for the riverfront and East of the Riverway Neighborhoods, and this award solidifies that effort.”
The East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project, alongside the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Plan (RADTIP) the Craven Street Improvement Project, and the construction of the New Belgium brewing facility, all play a part in the transformation of Asheville’s river district and creating needed transportation connections there.
“This is a huge win or Asheville,” Mayor Esther Manheimer said at the announcement. “These funds will provide for the continued revitalization of our River Arts District, creating a shared community vision of expanded greenways, street and sidewalk improvements and development opportunities that will continue to generate economic growth for Asheville.”
Groundbreaking on several projects in the East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project is anticipated to begin in 2015. Watch ashevillenc.gov/projects for updates.
September 15, 2014
The Neighborhood Advisory Committee of the City of Asheville invites residents and business and property owners of West Asheville to a neighborhood meeting Monday, September 22, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Road.
Please join us for this opportunity to express your ideas for improving your neighborhood and to hear about city projects and services in West Asheville. The meeting will provide a public forum for representatives from neighborhood associations and groups to share information about their neighborhood and the work of their groups.
In addition, Cathy Ball, Executive Director of Planning and Multi-modal Transportation, will give an update on the study on short term rentals. Ken Putnam, Director of Transportation, will share information on transportation related projects, including plans for a Haywood Road parking study. Greg Shuler, Public Works Director, will present information on ongoing Public Works projects. Police Department representatives for the West Asheville District will give updates on police related topics and Jayden Gurney, the Chair of the Citizen-Police Advisory Committee, will share information on the work of that group. Fire Department Chiefs Wayne Hamilton and Barry Hendren will give updates on fire and emergency services for West Asheville.
The Neighborhood Advisory Committee’s mission is to foster effective communication between and among Asheville’s neighborhoods and with the City of Asheville.
Click here to learn more about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee of the City of Asheville.
For more information about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee or the September 22 meeting, contact the West Asheville representative Elaine Poovey at email@example.com or 253-3514
September 11, 2014
Last summer’s heavy rains were an eye-opener for Asheville, causing unexpected landslides and undermining several roads on mountain slopes. Repairs are currently underway or in the planning stage for three such cases.
On Bent Tree Road, a residential street off Town Mouontain Road, is home to once such site.
“All that rainfall washed fill out from under the road, and the road just sloughed away,” said project manager John Gavin. As a stopgap measure, the city put down “soldier piles,” or concrete barricades that served to convert the road into one lane and keep drivers away from the weakened part of the roadway. “But you didn’t want to get too close to the edge,” Gavin says.
Now, work is underway to restore the road and build a retaining wall to hold it in place. The project consists of approximately 100 feet of retaining wall and wire mesh, and anchors will be sunk under the road and into the hillside to hold the wall in place.
“This is really the only thing appropriate for this site,” Gavin said.
The project, expected to take three months to complete, is eligible for reimbursement by FEMA, an option triggered by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in 2013. Another repair on Sunset Drive is also eligible for FEMA funds, while a third repair at Finlee Avenue will be funded through the city’s repaving budget. Bent Tree Road will be closed at the construction site for the duration of the project. Work on Sunset Drive is anticipated to begin later this fall.
“These are roads along steep grades, and are used frequently by surrounding residents. So we’re working to get them back to 100 percent,” Gavin said.
September 11, 2014
It’s time again for Asheville’s annual bicycle and pedestrian count and all are invited to participate.
One of the biggest challenges in crafting effective bicycle and pedestrian plans and weighing demand for multi-modal transportation infrastructure is the shortage of accurate data. The numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians using specific corridors and intersections is crucial to understanding and planning for people who walk and bike.
That’s where the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project comes in.
Over three days, volunteers will count pedestrians and bicyclists at designated intersections. The data is an important factor in estimating demand and activity. The more people who participate, the more locations get counted.
Register to volunteer here.
The count dates this year for Asheville are September 16th – 18th and Saturday, September 20th.
September 8, 2014
City of Asheville recreation centers are places for community-strengthening activities like student enrichment programs and neighborhood information meetings. So providing wireless internet fits perfectly into their mission, says Debbie Ivester, Assistant Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“People come to our recreation centers to connect with our services, each other, and the community,” Ivester says. “So being able to connect to the internet makes these facilities much more comprehensive. It was one of the most frequent requests we got.”
Randy Shaw, Director of the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center logs on to WiFi in the center’s lobby.
Over the summer, Wi-Fi was installed in eight city facilities: the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, Stephens-Lee, LinwoodCrump-ShilohCenter, Burton Street, Montford, the Harvest House, the SeniorOpportunityCenter and the AstonParkTennisCenter.
Randy Shaw, Director at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr., Southside Center, said the center’s after school programs like the teen leadership program for 6-9th graders are examples of where WiFi can help.
“Some students need internet access to complete homework assignments,” Shaw says. And since the Grant Center often hosts public meetings, he says, attendees can use WiFi on their devices to get information out to friends in the community.
Shaw said he hopes that people in the surrounding neighborhoods who don’t have internet access will see the resource as a chance to plug into resources in the community.
“Internet access really is a fundamental part of our society, whether it’s looking for jobs, looking for housing or finding out information about city services,” Shaw said. “It really is another element to help us better serve the community.”
Wireless internet at City of Asheville Recreation Centers can be accessed during center hours by speaking to a center staff member.
September 4, 2014
Friends, colleagues and representatives from law enforcement agencies and community groups gathered on Friday August 29 to recognize Captain Tim Splain on the day of his retirement from the Asheville Police Department.
“I am very thankful for Tim’s service to the City and to the community,” said Deputy Chief Wade Wood. “It’s been a great career. Tim’s worked with a lot of agencies and done so in an outstanding manner.”
Capt. Chris Reece-Young (left) presents Capt. Tim Splain with his badge.
Over the years, Splain has been involved in community initiatives such as Weed and Seed and Changing Together, and has worked side by side with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, the FBI and the DEA, all of whom had representatives who spoke positively of Splain’s impact locally.
Splain joined the APD in 1991 after working at the Pentagon in Naval Intelligence Command. At that time, he remembers, Asheville’s downtown was still in the early stages of revitalization, and APD patols worked closely with residents and business owners to make the area safer.
“It was enjoyable as a Patrol Sergeant to be part of how that developed. You got to see the influence of your work.” Splain says. “That’s the most sustaining part of this job, to have people thank you for things you did years before.”
September 2, 2014
A stretch of Haywood Road leading from the French Broad River into West Asheville will get a new look beginning Thursday August 21, as crews relocate the center yellow line and add a climbing bicycle lane.
The work is being conducted ahead of the August 28 closing of Craven Street between Haywood Road and Waynesville Avenue, part of the Craven Street Improvement Project.
Because of the relocation of the center line, the downhill lane from West Asheville will become a shared lane for both bicycles and vehicles. “Sharrow” markings will be installed as well to indicate that bicycles should ride the lane and vehicles should share the roadway.
“We recognize that Haywood Road and Craven Street are commuter routes for bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles alike,” said Senior Project Engineer John Gavin.“With Craven Street closed over the next six weeks, we wanted to make sure that everyone has a safe route as more traffic moves onto Haywood Road.”
During this portion of the Craven Street closure, commuters can also access Waynesville Avenue via the bridge from Riverside Drive to Craven Street.
The restriping and signage is anticipated to be complete by the end of Friday, Aug. 22.
Increased bicycle access is part of the Haywood Road Multimodal Project, and more enhancements will take place in the spring of 2015, after the completion of the Craven Street improvement project.
August 20, 2014
Events in Ferguson, Missouri, have sparked a national conversation about police procedures, equipment and response to citizens demonstrating in the face of tragedy.
Given these concerns, it is understandable that many may be wondering about the Asheville Police Department’s responsive procedures. Asheville is a city of many opinions, and we at APD are proud of our track record of responding to demonstrations and those who exercise their right of free speech. We take constitutional rights and public safety seriously and approach our response to demonstrations and other events with professionalism and respect. I share this because I want everyone to know that we have a police department worthy of your confidence.
By examining and putting into practice policies that address our officers’ procedures during such events, the Asheville community has over the past decade been an open and safe place for free speech and expression for demonstrators and onlookers alike. Each of our officers is trained in crowd management strategies that allow for the free expression of ideas and protect the safety of the public. These strategies have been evident during the course of several high-profile events, including Moral Monday rallies, open-carry demonstrations and the Occupy Asheville event.
Most recently, concern across the nation has turned to the use of military-style equipment in police departments. Our use of specialized tactical equipment is reserved for operations that require the deployment of highly-trained and likewise specialized Emergency Response Team (ERT) members, as in the two-day standoff on Max Street in January of this year. I emphasize the word “specialized” because these officers only deploy this kind of equipment when there is a direct and real threat to the safety of the public. Deployment of our ERT requires the approval of our supervisors. In the Max Street case, the use of an armored vehicle kept our officers safe as they negotiated the delicate situation at hand and their efforts achieved a successful outcome with no injuries.
APD officers consider ourselves part of the larger community we serve and protect by actively seeking out connections, making sure that we are visible and well known in both the neighborhoods and business districts of Asheville. This outreach means that citizens and officers talk, get to know one another, and assist each other in keeping our city safe.
I believe the concerns of the public are the concerns of the APD, and these conversations are important for us to have in order to grow and remain strong as a community. Just recently, both Sheriff Duncan and I participated in a Use of Force forum, hosted by the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council. It is my hope that while we have these conversations, we will look to each other for support.
Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the recent events.
- Asheville Police Chief William Anderson
August 18, 2014
Beginning January 1, 2015, Asheville Redefines Transit will begin offering service on Sundays and improved service to the Emma and Oakley sections of Asheville.
“Sunday service is at the top of our list for enhancements to the system, and was included as a high priority in the Transit Master Plan,” said Transportation Manager Mariate Echeverry. “This will provide riders more options to get to their workplace and to make needed trips on Sunday.”
Sunday service earned the highest scores in a 2008 Rider Survey and in a follow up survey conducted in 2013. The addition of Sunday service means that ART will operate every day of the year except Christmas, Thanksgiving Day and Easter.
Asheville City Council approved funding for the change in the 2014/2015 budget and the step meets the city’s goals of constant improvement and excellent service as well as Council’s Strategic Goal of supporting multimodal transportation.
“The City’s commitment to increased service will make a major impact on the daily lives of thousands of people,” said Adam Charnack, Vice-Chair of Asheville’s Transit Committee. “Investments like these attract even more riders and we look forward to building on this momentum.”
As part of the implementation of these changes, the City of Asheville will host a public meeting to receive comments and feedback on Wednesday, August 20 from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. in the 4th Floor Training Room of the Municipal Building, 100 Court Plaza. The meeting will be a drop-in format to take public comment on the most effective times and routes for these improvements.
The meeting will also address changes in response to rider requests that the ART operate direct routes from downtown to the Oakley and Emma areas.
The public can weigh in on changes to the ART system at this online survey or submit comments by August 25, 2014, to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Mariate Echeverry, Transportation Planning Manager, City of Asheville, P.O. Box 7148, Asheville NC 28802.
Paper surveys are also being distributed and collected at the ART Station and in the Emma community to gather as much feedback as possible.
Since the Transit Master Plan launch in 2008, enhancements outlined in that plan have been implemented as funding is secured. Service enhancements that have been implemented include new branding, increased frequency on major corridors, holiday service, increased service on Tunnel Road, 10 new shelters, route schedule improvements and the launch of the NextBus arrival notification system.
For more information about Asheville Transit call (828) 253-5691, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.ridetheart.com.
August 14, 2014
This spring, the City of Asheville Fire Department took up a nation-wide challenge to see which of its three battalions, throughout the department’s 12 stations, could make the biggest reduction in energy use over a three-month period. With the results tallied in June, the winner is Battalion 2 with a total energy reduction of 12% over last year’s numbers at Stations 2, 3, 6 and 10. But the big winner was the department as a whole and the City of Asheville, as the friendly competition offset 24 tons of greenhouse gasses and saved the AFD $2000 in energy costs.
The Chief’s Energy Challenge is a nationwide effort issued by the fire departments of Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh inviting fire departments to reduce their energy use by 10% in one year, and 20% by year three.
“The results produced by these battalions is a testimony to the innovative and cost effective ways we can reduce our environmental impact and still maintain a high level of service to the safety of the public,” said AFD Chief Scott Burnette.
The AFD’s participation was a collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, and during the challenge, the Sustainability team worked directly with the department to find ways to cut energy use and costs. Many of those, says Energy Analyst Kerby Smithson, can be used going forward in an effort to beat the one-year 10% goal.
“From LED lights to low-flow shower heads, the steps these firefighters took and the ideas they had were practical and resourceful,” Smithson said. “And it’s really a testament to how we all can affect change by making small changes in our habits, like turning off lights and appliances.”
“We’re happy to be able to move forward with these steps,” said Lt. Angie Bell at Station 10. “It is an eye opener to see how these things add up to a real impact in savings.”
The results of the Chief’s Energy Challenge were recorded by the Office of Sustainability and reported to the Chief’s Energy Challenge North Carolina organizers.
August 6, 2014