In the below video, UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center Director James Fox talks about the upcoming open house to examine and discuss potential impacts from heavy rainfall events.
Original press release below:
Open house to focus on weather impact strategies
ASHEVILLE – On Nov. 20, the public is invited to an open house to learn more about the impacts and responses to this summer’s rainfall, and to discuss what the area can expect from future weather events. The open house, presented by the City of Asheville and UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), will take place at NEMAC’s 116 Grove Arcade location in downtown Asheville.
The summer of 2013 saw record rainfall in and around Asheville, with storms dumping nearly 12 inches of rain in July alone. That volume of rainfall in such a short period of time presented new challenges to the City of Asheville as Public Works officials responded to incidents like landslides and sinkholes.
“This summer’s rainfall affected many people in our community and had a profound impact on infrastructure and property,” said Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball. “And as a community, we need to have a conversation about what steps we can to take to prepare for and minimize impacts from future storm events.”
The on-site technology provided by NEMAC will offer visitors computer simulations of rainfall impacts on Asheville, and even provide site-specific illustrations of flood and stormwater runoff impact. The City of Asheville and UNC Asheville’s NEMAC have been working together for the past seven years, largely collaborating on flood reduction and stormwater work.
Representatives from the City’s Public Works Department, Stormwater Services Division and Office of Sustainability will be on hand at the Nov. 20 open house to talk about the realities of heavy rain events, detail community responses from the city, and discuss options for preventative measures in the future.
“We really want the community’s voice in this discussion,” Ball said. “We want to hear from people who were affected and those who are concerned about what we can expect as we adjust to this new reality.”
The open house will take place Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 6-8 p.m. at the RENCI Engagement Site located in the Grove Arcade, Suite 116, One Page Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801.
For more information about this event contact Chief Sustainability Offier Maggie Ullman at (828) 271-6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At its October 22 meeting, Asheville City Council unanimously approved a partnership with the NCDOT that will result in a major sidewalk expansion in South Asheville. The project, slated to begin in 2014, will see sidewalks installed on both sides of Hendersonville Road from I-40 to Long Shoals Road – adding walkability to a stretch of highway approximately 5.3 miles long.
Workers pour concrete for another new South Asheville sidewalk at Overlook Road in October
“This is a huge project and a great addition to our sidewalk network,” said Greg Shuler, the city’s Streets and Engineering manager. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
The partnership includes a major federal funding match, with 80 percent of project funds provided by the Surface Transportation Program – Directly Attributable (STP-DA) through the NCDOT. The funds were allocated by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization which is charged with administering STP-DA funding at the regional level. The City of Asheville will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent of funding as well as administering and conducting the work on the sidewalk installation. The city’s $825,000 match is included in the city’s FY 2013/2014 capital improvement budget.
Hendersonville Road represents a large and growing section of South Asheville, as well as a gateway into Biltmore Village, and this project will enhance access and safety for people who walk along this corridor of residential areas, businesses, and retail and dining destinations.
Asheville City Council has prioritized pedestrian safety and infrastructure in its 2013/2014 strategic plan, and projects like the Hendersonville Road sidewalk project advance that goal.
Following Council’s approval, the agreement goes to Raleigh for final approval. Shuler says there is plenty to do before breaking ground next fall – local easements need to be established with adjacent property owners and historic properties need to be evaluated. Work will continue alongside the NCDOT to identify rights-of-way while the city will research and identify environmental considerations like flood zones and impact on wildlife.
Another important step in the planning stages, Shuler points out, is community participation, and the city will host community input meetings and invite feedback from the public on the project. Public input opportunities will be announced by press release and posted on the City of Asheville’s information outlets including ashevillenc.gov, twitter.com/cityofasheville and facebook.com/cityofasheville.
Three schools, a library and a church, not to mention surrounding homes, are getting a boost in pedestrian access with the addition of approximately 2,000 feet of sidewalk being installed at Overlook Road in South Asheville. The addition of ADA-compliant sidewalks is intended to greatly improve the safety of travelers in the corridor, no matter their mode of transportation.
Engineers are currently clearing and removing brush and trees along the east side of Overlook Road between Long Shoals and Springdale Road/Pinchot Drive in anticipation of breaking ground for the sidewalk. The project is expected to be completed by December 31.
Throughout the duration of the project, drivers may experience some traffic pattern changes. Please be aware of traffic alert signs and workers on the site.
City of Asheville Streets and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler says the project is the result of close collaboration between Buncombe County, the NCDOT, the City of Asheville and the surrounding community. Overlook Road is a state-owned road, and Buncombe County granted needed easements on the school and library properties crucial to the sidewalk construction. A public input meeting was held in the fall of 2011.
“We all worked close together to get this going,” Shuler said. “And the end product will make the area much easier to navigate safely.”
“We are grateful for the partnership that has led to this improvement,” said Buncombe County School Board Member Amy Churchill. “The schools in the vicinity of Overlook Road welcome the addition of sidewalks on Overlook, which will add to the pedestrian connections Buncombe County Schools has been implementing in the area and encourage a healthier lifestyle in the community.”
The stretch will link sidewalk networks along Long Shoals Road and Pinchot Drive, which received new sidewalks last year, as well as recently installed pathway system installed by BCS connecting Koontz Intermediate School, Estes Elementary School and Valley Springs Middle School. The City of Asheville Public Works and Transportation Departments seek to identify and prioritize sidewalk locations based on need and the ability to provided linkages between existing sidewalk locations.
When you replace a 100-year old wall, you have big shoes to fill. At the September 12 dedication the new retaining wall at Cherokee Road, residents of the Albemarle neighborhood stood alongside City of Asheville personnel and project contractors to celebrate the marriage of modern structural design and historic aesthetics that went into the project.
“This is going to be here a lot longer than any of us,” said the city’s Streets and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler. “I am proud to be part of a team that is exceptional in every way.”
With the help of community input and collaboration, the replacement of the 70-foot retaining wall was identified as a priority for the city. Age, erosion and even a few impacts over the years had taken a toll on the original wall, located at the intersection of Cherokee Road and Sunset Drive. Needed stormwater upgrades were included in the project, making the intersection safer and less vulnerable to erosion.
Care was taken to preserve the historic look of the wall and its place in the surrounding neighborhood, and original stone was used as a veneer on top of modern concrete. The neighborhood, project engineers and the City of Asheville’s Historic Resources Commission worked closely together to ensure that the final product matched the character of the Albemarle neighborhood, which is listed as both a local and national historic district.
“It is wonderful to live in a city which recognizes that beauty and craftsmanship are as important as function,” said neighborhood resident and Albemarle Park-Manor Grounds Association Board Member Rich Mathews.
The construction team was on site to celebrate the opening, including project manager Brian Estes, Senior Project Engineer John Gavin, Construction Inspector Lee Morrison, and Administrative Assistant Kathi Willis. Representatives from contractor Buchanan and Sons and design consultant Michael Baker Engineering were also on the site, as was Historic Resources Commission Director Stacy Merten.
Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell praised the effort, pointing out the economic development impact that preserving historic aesthetics has on Asheville. As more businesses choose to relocate to Asheville for its quality of life, paying attention to and maintaining the character of the city’s neighborhoods supports economic growth.
“The city has a lot to be proud of here,” Bothwell said.
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.
Six city employees were recognized by Asheville City Council at its August 13 meeting. Council thanked for their hard work, drive for improvement, and, in one case, heroism.
Darlene Barnwell, who works in the city’s Customer Service Division, received a standing ovation for her heroic rescue of an 8-year-old boy who was being attacked by dogs in a neighbor’s yard. In May, Barnwell was drawn away from a cookout she was hosting to assist in a search for the boy. When she found him in a neighbor’s yard being attacked by the dogs, she climbed a barbed wire fence, managed to distract the dogs, then pick up the boy and carry him out of the yard.
“We’re so proud of you Darlene,” said City Manager Gary Jackson. “And it touches our hearts that you would do that.”
Council also recognized Asheville Fire Department Battalion Chief Joy Ponder for completing the four-year National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program. Last year, while going through the program, Ponder became the AFD’s first female Battalion Chief.
The City’s Purchasing Manager Amy Patterson was congratulated for earning the title of Certified Local Government Purchasing Officer through the North Carolina School of Government. The certification means that Patterson and the City’s Purchasing Division are recognized as providers of efficient, fair and transparent business practices.
Darryl Rice, Rob Martin and Kevin Haughinberry of the City’s Fleet Division were recognized for completing specialized training and certification to inspect low-emission CNG vehicles in the city’s fleet. Their training saves the city time and money when using the low-emission vehicles.
Click the screen above to see a video of Council’s City of Asheville Employee Recognition from August 13.
There’s not a lot of existing documentation about the original dry-stack retaining wall that used to hold up Cherokee Road in the Albemarle Park Historic District. The rustic character of the wall fits the vision of the Raoul Family, who developed Albemarle Park over 100 years ago, and an inscription of “1962” in a mortared patch of the wall confirms that repair work was completed about 50 years back.
The original dry-stack wall at Cherokee Road.
But decades of use, erosion from a subterranean storm drain and a few impacts by vehicles meant that it was time to replace the 70-foot long wall just off Charlotte Street. Albemarle Park is a rare intact example of a historic residential park uniquely sensitive to the natural environment, and is listed as both a local and national historic district, says Historic Resources Commission Director Stacy Merten. As such, great care was put into how the final product will look, and the project required review by the Historic Resources Commission who issued a Certificate of Appropriateness for the design.
With the concrete wall in place, work begins on the rock veneer.
To preserve the historic character, workers are utilizing the original stone, cutting the pieces and using them as a veneer for the new structure. “The finished product will look like the original dry-stack,” Merten says. “We’re using old photography and comparing this with other historic walls to make sure it looks right.”
Beneath the historic stone, however, lies a modern concrete poured wall designed to withstand the traffic needs of the road. “What we are getting is a good, engineered structure,” says project manager Brian Estes. “That blends stability, life span and the historic appearance.”
With some stone rendered unusable during the deconstruction process, and the recreation of a pilaster that once stood at Sunset Road, project engineers knew some supplemental stone would be required The project’s masonry contractor located a quarry which mined the same stone and had the match confirmed through the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Abemarle neighborhood provided important input in the project as well.
Original stone is used to recreate the historic look.
“I am very pleased with the process and outcome of the historic stone wall replacement project, said resident Robert Sauer. “Neighbors were invited to meet with their input early on and Public Works and HRC listened and responded. Several suggestions from us were included in the project. The loss of the original wall is unfortunate but the well-engineered carefully crafted replica is a fine result.”
The Cherokee Road retaining wall project represents a key 2012/2013 Fiscal Year Capital Improvement Project within the City of Asheville.
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.
The City of Asheville’s Public Works Department hosted a visiting class of pre-kindergarten students from Carolina Day School at its South Charlotte Street Facility Feb. 15, showing the children and some parents around the big trucks and equipment the department uses.
Teacher Cathy Walters says that the field trip is part of the school’s curriculum focusing on the seasons of the year, and the children get to learn about how Public Works crews salt and plow the streets during winter weather storms. “They’ve been very excited,” she said.
The visit is an annual tradition, and the department has been hosting the groups for some time.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” says Streets and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler. “The kids really love this stuff.”
The tour isn’t limited to snow and ice removal. The children get to learn about equipment that keeps the city’s storm drains clear, the trucks that pick up trash every week, and see the tall bucket truck city arborist Mark Foster uses to trim trees.
The Public Works Department takes on projects throughout the City of Asheville such as sidewalk construction and roadway improvements, maintains the city’s fleet of vehicles and operates stormwater and sanitation services.
But Walters says the big finale is the gigantic pile of salt and sand Public Works keeps on hand in the shed for winter weather. It’s such a big deal, the Carolina Day School children even sang a song written just for the occasion, which ends in a refrain about the Public Works crews who drive salt-spreading trucks when snow and ice threaten roads:
“Salt and sand go out and get spread about
City workers spring into action
Salt melts the snow and helps us go
By giving wheels some traction.”
The City of Asheville Public Works Department is pleased to accommodate schools and groups interested in visiting its facility. Anyone who would like to arrange a field trip can contact Greg Shuler at (828) 271-6146 or email@example.com.