Following a revision to the City’s traffic calming policy and approval by Asheville City Council, the City of Asheville Transportation Department has resumed projects designed to ease traffic speed on neighborhood roads.
Speeding and unnecessary through-traffic presents dangers that affect the quality of life in residential areas. In order to provide a safer environment, the City of Asheville seeks to provide traffic calming to neighborhoods that go through the process of requesting it. A 2000 Traffic Calming Policy approved by City Council established a protocol for responding to requests from residents for traffic calming installations, but funding for such projects has been unavailable since 2007.
With $100,000 funding approved in the 2013/2014 budget, the Transportation Department is able to once more address requests for traffic calming, beginning with those submitted since 2007.
“We have a backlog of traffic calming projects requested by residents that stretches back seven years or so, and those are going to be our first priority right now,” said Transportation Director Ken Putnam. “We appreciate the patience of these folks and are working closely with them to move projects forward.”
The department worked closely with the Public Safety Committee, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force sub-committee and the Asheville Police Department to develop next steps.
In March City Council approved an action plan and revisions to the traffic calming policy that shifted focus to the use of speed humps, speed cushions or other lower-cost strategies. That move will stretch the funding budgeted for the projects by focusing on installation instead of design.
“Speed humps are really the most economical kind of device to slow traffic, and they are easier on vehicles,” Putnam said. “Bicyclists also seem to prefer them to other speed reduction devices.”
Staff is currently analyzing or working with the top seven locations on the waiting list to determine those that meet a certain threshold of traffic volume and have an identified speeding problem. Residents on the first of those, Bear Creek Road, have already reviewed the locations for speed humps and completed the necessary collection of signatures. Work is expected to take place in July.
“We work closely with the neighborhoods on these,” Putnam says. “Especially since there is the possibility that interest in traffic calming may have declined over time.”
The revised Traffic Calming Policy also includes changes that make it easier for neighborhoods to initiate the consideration of speed humps, allows for the combination of public-private funding and ensure safe access for emergency vehicles.
Additionally, the city plans a public outreach campaign designed to increase awareness of speeding and other dangerous driving habits.
“We really want the community to gather around the cause that safer driving is better for individuals, for neighborhoods and for the city as a whole,” Putnam said.
The City of Asheville is looking for applicants to participate in this year’s Volunteer Handicapped Parking Enforcement Program. Each year, the City of Asheville Police Department trains volunteers how to write citations and warnings to drivers who park illegally in handicapped spaces. The program has been a great success for the city over the years in both educating and enforcing handicapped parking space laws.
Out of 900 plus handicapped parking citations written in 2013, approximately 80% of those were written by volunteers who had gone through the class.
“This is a great group of volunteers who help us out by being an extra set of eyes in parking lots,” says Parking Enforcement Supervisor Adam March. “And the numbers are proof of their effectiveness.”
The volunteers, many of whom utilize handicapped spaces themselves, are in a unique position to spot violations. Often, these are cases where handicapped placards are not displayed, placards are expired, or where drivers have parked in the striped zones around handicapped spaces. Many drivers aren’t aware that those striped zones are there to give people with wheelchairs or other mobility assistance room to exit or return to their cars.
Volunteers who go through the class are empowered to write handicapped parking citations only, and only within the City of Asheville limits and outside of the Central Business District. Participants are given a background check and signed off on by the City Manager. Volunteers who have participated in previous years and who want to continue in the program must re-attend the class.
To apply for the Volunteer Handicapped Parking Enforcement Program, contact the City of Asheville Parking Services at (828) 259-5759 or stop by 45 Wall Street to pick up an application. The class will be held Thursday May 22nd, at 45 Wall Street, and parking will be provided in the Wall Street Parking Garage. The deadline for applications is May 15th.
In the video below, Ken Putnam, City of Asheville Transportation Department Director, discusses the upcoming traffic and pedestrian improvements to E. Chestnut Street in the Five Points Neighborhood Community.
The Biltmore Avenue Parking garage, situated beneath the Aloft Hotel and opened in August of 2012, has been recognized among the region’s best by the Carolinas Parking Association.
Earning an award of merit in the category of New Design, the garage was recognized alongside parking garages from throughout the region.
“This is a really exciting development in a garage that was situated in a dense area of downtown yet nearly tripled available public parking there,” said the city’s Transportation Director Ken Putnam.
The construction was the result of a collaboration between the City of Asheville, Aloft owners the McKibbon Group, and Public Interest Projects, who owned the property – a partnership that resulted in a construction savings of $2.66 million to the City of Asheville and resulted in a parking garage in a corner of downtown with limited parking options, a need identified in a 2008 parking study.
The City of Asheville maintains four parking garages with a total of 1444 parking spaces in downtown Asheville, including the garage at Biltmore Avenue and decks at Rankin Street, Wall Street and behind the U.S. Cellular Center. Except in cases of special event rates, the first hour is free when parking in any of these garages, with each additional hour $1.00.
Click here for more about the City of Asheville parking services.
This summer’s rainfall certainly put Asheville on the charts, making it the second-wettest city in the U.S., according to the National Climactic Data Center. And the rainfall was not without its costs. Landslides, sinkholes and flooding were all impacts of the high volume of rain.
From time to time, the City of Asheville experiences extraordinary weather events, be they rain, wind or snow, and that’s when city crews from Public Works, Streets and Water Resources work their hardest to restore the City of Asheville back to normal.
To keep you informed of where work is happening and how it is progress, we’ve included a “Storm Cleanup” button on the front page of the City of Asheville web page, ashevillenc.gov. The button takes you to a dedicated page with locations and updated information about storm damage remediation.
In addition, the page offers important numbers you can use to report potential hazards and storm damage.
Bicyclists and drivers alike in north Asheville have probably noticed new markings being installed on the streets there. Shared lane markings, or “sharrows” are yet another tool being used by the City of Asheville to provide multi-modal transportation options within the city and enhance safety for both bicyclists and drivers.
Kimberly Avenue and surrounding streets are the newest recipients of sharrows as the City of Asheville Transportation Department works to create a planned 6.5 mile network of bicycle-friendly streets along major commuter routes.
Newly placed shared use arrows on Kimberly Avenue.
In 2012, Asheville City Council voted to implement a Complete Streets policy for Asheville. That policy is intended to balance the needs of all travelers no matter their mode of transportation or ability.
Asheville has already rolled out an expanding network of bike lanes, but not all streets are wide enough for such enhancements. That’s where sharrows come in.
“A sharrow is really an invitation to share the road,” says Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “It is a reminder that we all, drivers and bicyclists alike, are out there using the same space.”
South French Broad from downtown to Livingston Street became the first route to receive sharrows in 2008. It was the city’s first project subsequent to adoption of the bicycle transportation plan. As city staff looked at continuing to implement the bicycle plan, the sharrows in North Asheville emerged as the best next step in creating a connected network of on-road bicycle facilities in Asheville.
Sharrows have been found to be a best practice in encouraging bicyclists to ride the lane on the road rather than off to the side. They are used when lanes are not wide enough for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to ride side-by-side. When using these routes, bicyclists should ride at least as far to the left as the middle of the arrow. This keeps bicyclists visible and in the flow of traffic and away from the dreaded “door zone” of cars parked on the street. It also gives a wide berth for traffic coming out of driveways or into an intersection.
Riding along the path indicated by sharrows offers the most visibility and safety for bicycles.
They also give drivers a heads up to look out for bicyclists. The markings indicate that there is not room for drivers to safely pass a bicyclist in the lane, and they are often used on downhill grades and along residential streets where bicyclists can keep up with the speed limit.
Sharrows can help bicyclists navigate a commute as well, pointing the way along a route that is sometimes safer than major corridors like Merrimon Avenue.
“These are usable alternative routes that keep bicycles off of roads that are currently more suitable for cars and trucks,” Mee said.
The north Asheville shared lane marking network is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
Bicycle enhancements like sharrows are aligned with Asheville City Council’s strategic goal of supporting multimodal transportation options. For more on the Comprehensive Bicycle plan, go to ashevillenc.gov.
Asheville Redefines Transit continues to employ strategies that improve the ridership experience, and that goes for the City of Asheville’s non-English speaking population as well.
In response to the growth of Spanish-speaking and Eastern European populations in Asheville, as indicated by census data, Ride the ART offers multi-lingual services at the downtown ART Station, 49 Coxe Ave. An over-the-phone translation service allows dispatchers to engage with riders in a conference-call style conversation so that non-English speakers can get the information they need to get the most out of the bus system.
Dispatcher Vickie Webb and bus driver Ion Gherasim try out the translation service at the ART Station.
Additionally, the city’s transit website www.ridetheart.com directs users in English, Spanish and Russian to online mapping that assists with planning routes and schedules. Posters in all three languages for the buses and ART Station are currently in the works.
These steps keep Asheville in compliance with federal Title VI Civil Rights Act requirements that city services accommodate the needs of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) groups that have crossed a specific population threshold.
“We are always looking at opportunities to provide better service to these populations,” said Transportation Services Manager Mariate Echeverry.
Although Spanish and Russian (used as a common language across Eastern European populations) are the two most-commonly spoken non-English languages in Asheville, the phone system has the added advantage of making almost any language available to help riders get where they need to go. The City of Asheville contracts with an outside company for the service and pays only on an as-used basis.
ART (Asheville Redefines Transit), el servicio de transporte público de la Ciudad de Asheville utiliza servicios de intérprete para personas no anglo parlantes.
Asheville Redefines Transit (ART) por sus siglas en inglés, lanzado en mayo de 2012, continúa empleando estrategias para mejorar la experiencia de los usuarios que usan el servicio de transporte público que no son anglo parlantes.
Respondiendo al crecimiento de la población de habla hispana y rusa, indicado en el censo, ART ofrece un servicio multi-lengua en la estación central, ART Station, 49 Coxe Ave. Servicios de intérprete por teléfono permiten a los despachadores mantener una conversación con personas que no hablan inglés para obtener la información que necesitan para usar el servicio de autobuses.
Adicionalmente, la página web www.ridetheart.com dirige a los usuarios en inglés, español y ruso a mapas en la red para asistirlos en la tarea de planear la ruta o el horario. Anuncios en estos tres lenguajes están siendo desarrollados también.
“Siempre estamos buscando oportunidades para proveer un mejor servicio”, dice la Gerente de Planeación de Transporte, Mariate Echeverry.
Aunque español y ruso son las dos lenguas mas usadas en esta área, el sistema de interpretación telefónica ofrece interpretación en casi todas las lenguas conocidas para ayudar a los usuarios del sistema de transporte público. La Ciudad contrata este servicio con una empresa privada y paga por el servicio basado en el uso del mismo.
La Ciudad de Asheville apoya transporte multi-modal y accesible al público, y desde la implementación de la fase uno del plan maestro de transporte público (Transit Master Plan) ha expandido el servicio, ofreciendo servicio frecuente en las vías mas usadas, añadiendo autobuses a la flota e introduciendo servicio durante los días de fiesta. Entérese de más en ridetheart.com.
Автобусная cистема Эшвилла предлагает пассажирам услуги переводчиков.
Г. Эшвилл—Aвтобусная cистема Эшвилла (“ARТ: Asheville Redefines Transit”) продолжает искать методы улучшения нашей системы обслуживания, включая обслуживание пассажиров которые не говорят по-английски.
По данным перечисла населения, количество граждан говорящих по испански и выходцев из Восточной Европы в Эшвилле продолжает расти. Aвтобусная cистема Эшвилла предлагает обслуживание на разных языках для посетителей центральной автобусной станции (ART Station, 49 Coxe Ave). При обращении к диспетчеру на станции, граждане говорящие на другом языке будут подключены к синхронной системе перевода с помощью телефона, чтобы все жители могли получить информацию как им проехать по нужному направлению.
Также, жители города могут посетить наш сайт, www.ridetheart.com где имеются указания на английском, испанском и руском языках которые помогут вам воспользоваться картами и расписаниями. В настоящий момент готовятся плакаты с указаниями по использованию автобусных маршрутов на трех языках, которые бутут размещены на стенах центральной автобусной станции.
Эти шаги помогут Администрации города Эшвилла следовать всем постановлениям на основе Раздела VI Закона о гражданских правах 1964 года. Cогласно этому закону, все коммунальные службы и другие предоставляемые услуги города должны быть доступны для граждан не говорящих на английском, если количество граждан говорящих на другом языке достигает определенного уровня.
Менеджер по траспортным услугам Мариате Эшеверри объяснила в заявлении: “Мы всегда ищем возможность улучшить нашe качество услуг для населения.”
Испанский и русский языки (многие выходцы из различных стран Восточной Европы говорят по-русски) являются самыми востребованными языками в Эшвилле помимо английского. Синхронная система перевода с помощью телефона установленная на центральной станции также дает возможность перевода на другие языки в добавок к испанскому и к русскому, чтобы все жители могли получить нужную информацию. Администрация города Эшвилла заключила контракт c провайдером об использовании услуг по переводу, и будет оплачивать за услуги перевода по мере востребования.
Администрация города Эшвилла принимает меры для поддержки мультимодальной системы пассажирского транспорта доступной для всех жителей города. С момента начала введения первого этапа нового автобусного плана “Transit Master Plan” в 2012 году, руководство города добавила более частые автобусные рейсы на самых популярных корридорах, а также были приобретены новые автобусы и добавлены часы работы во время праздников. Для более подробной информации, посетите наш сайт: www.ridetheart.com.
In 2012, Asheville City Council approved a Complete Streets policy that ensures transportation planning and street maintenance that accommodates pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, people with disabilities, children and the elderly among others. Supporting multi-modal transportation in the City of Asheville is one of City Council’s strategic goals.
On Monday, June 3, a presentation at 36 Montford Avenue and presented by a host of community partners will highlight the community benefits of Complete Streets.
See the poster below for details about this informative presentation:
This Friday evening, take a stroll along the French Broad River while helping make four upcoming projects in the River Arts District and West Asheville better at the River District SpeakUP.
From the City of Asheville Office of Economic Development:
Drop in at Jean Webb park on Riverside Drive Friday evening between 5 and 8 p.m. to learn about four great community initiatives coming to the area, meet with design professionals and give your important input to these projects.
Riverside Drive Redevelopment Plan – a plan to transform ten acres of city owned property along the RADTIP (River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project) corridor into assets that address the environmental, social and economic needs of the community.
O.P.E.N – connecting community institutions and individuals to the River Arts District through creative solutions to urban issues. Friday’s focus: wellness and finding your way around.
Design Build Studio– Asheville Design Center’s summer program, where ten students meet up with local professionals and work over the course of ten weeks to design and build a physical solution to a neighborhood issue. This year, it’s a footbridge that will allow you to walk from Jean Webb Park to the greenspace just south of that without having to go out in the street.
West Asheville Bus Shelter – A joint project between the Asheville Design Center, City of Asheville and New Belgium Brewing, the project will bring a new bus shelter to the Craven St. and Haywood Rd. interstection. Local history and community design input are the two key ingredients for shaping the design of the shelter.
Click this link to see the poster with more information on the meeting and the community partners making these initiatives possible: RAD Meetup May 31 Poster
Contractors are nearing completion of a new bridge on Wild Cherry Road. The project began last fall, after an engineering firm determined that replacement of the bridge would cost less over its life span than rehabilitating the existing structure would. The project employed a temporary bridge during demolition and construction to reduce traffic interruptions and the new bridge includes sidewalks, increasing walkability along the corridor.
The slideshow below shows step-by-step how it was done. Click in the lower right corner to enlarge the images and then click in the upper right to enable descriptions of the photos.