Filed under: Public Works
Two Public Works employees and one retired Finance Department employee were recognized by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Public Works Association’s North Carolina chapter for outstanding service and the pursuit of excellence at Asheville City Council’s July 22 meeting.
Public Works Administrative Assistant Kathi Willis was recognized with the Association’s President’s Award for her dedication to the Association and “her continuing efforts and work with the North Carolina Chapter Executive Board.” This is the second time Willis’ efforts have been recognized with this award, having won it previously in 2010. Chapter President Russell Byrd cited her character, organizational skills, her willingness to go beyond what is expected and her incredible ability to keep the chapter “on-task and in-line.”
Willis has worked at the City of Asheville since 1991 and took over the role of the APWA-NC Chapter secretary in 2008.
“Kathi Willis is a true professional in every sense of the word,” Byrd told Council. “Without Kathi’s invaluable contributions our chapter would not and could not be one of the finest in the association.”
The Association also recognized Construction Inspector Lee Morrison with the Association’s Municipal Employee Scholarship. Morrison works with the Capital Projects Management (Engineering) Division and has been with the City of Asheville since 2006. He has been attending classes to advance his knowledge of service and excellence and is nearing completion of coursework to earn the designation of NC Road Scholar, a program offered through the Institute of Transportation, Research and Education. In addition to his studies and workload, he is also a lieutenant at a local volunteer fire department and an Eagle Scout.
Lyle Willis, retired from the position of Contract Administrator in Purchasing Division of the city’s Finance Department, was awarded the Jean Seals Service Award, given in recognition for contributions by non-members for their support of the Association. Mr. Willis, husband of Kathi Willis, was cited for his attendance at APWA-NC events and his support of Kathi in her role. He worked at the city of Asheville for 23 years before his retirement in 2013.
All three were presented their awards at the 57th annual Conference of the American Public Works Association, North Carolina Chapter in June.
Click below to see the presentation to Asheville City Council.
July 25, 2014
On Monday, July 21, work will begin on the Craven Street improvement project in west Asheville, a long-term enhancement that will include multi-modal roadway improvements including pedestrian and bike facilities, stormwater Best Management Practices and stream restoration, low impact parking and greenway construction and water line improvements. See background on this project at the City of Asheville Project Page.
The duration of the project will last from July 21, 2014 through December of 2015. The majority of the roadway work will take place during the next 6 months. As this is an active construction project, there will be heavy construction equipment in the area for the duration of the project.
During the remainder of July and the beginning of August, work will focus on clearing and grubbing activities, placement of the stormwater conveyance systems and other utilities, and existing asphalt removal. The project also involves a comprehensive improvement to the unnamed creek that starts along Waynesville Avenue and drains through the New Belgium Brewery site into the French Broad River.
Full road closures are not expected during this initial phase of the project, though delays and lane closures can be anticipated. Travelers are advised to use alternate routes where possible.
Beginning August 25, work will expand into roadway culvert improvements with Craven Street closed in the direction Haywood Road for the duration of work, which is expected to last until the end of September.
The Craven Street improvement project is located in the area surrounding the New Belgium Brewery construction site and is the City of Asheville’s portion in a public-private partnership with The State of North Carolina, North Carolina Golden Leaf Foundation, NCDOT, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Buncombe County, the Economic Development Administration, and the Asheville–Buncombe Economic Development Coalition and others in support of New Belgium Brewing’s investment of $175 million in our community.
July 18, 2014
It’s sign up time! July 1 marks the beginning of the City of Asheville’s 90-day graffiti removal assistance program, and property owners are now encouraged to call, email or use the Asheville App to sign up for up to $500 in removal assistance.
The cleanup assistance program runs through September 30, with a goal of removing as much graffiti from Asheville as possible in that time.
Here’s how property owners can report graffiti and sign up for removal assistance:
Use the Asheville App (ashevillenc.gov/ashevilleapp), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (828) 259-5960.
City staff will visit the site and estimate the cost of removal
The property owner signs a waiver and agrees to pay all costs over the City’s $500 investment ($500 per building per incident)
The City contacts a pre-qualified contractor to remove graffiti, who will aim to remove graffiti within 48 hours
The City pays the contractor and bills the property owner for any amount over $500
After September 30, property owners will be responsible for removing graffiti from their property within seven days. At the request of property owners, the city will coordinate cleanup with a pre-qualified contractor, but the property owner will be responsible for the entire cleanup cost. That’s why getting on the list for the 90-day removal assistance program is such a great opportunity for property owners!
“We know that quick removal is one of the best deterrents to vandalism,” said Cathy Ball, the city’s Executive Director of Planning and Multimodal Transportation. “That’s why the goal of the 90-day assistance program is to remove graffiti throughout the city and get us back to a baseline. Working together as a community, we can make a real impact on graffiti vandalism.”
This is the second step of the 123 Graffiti Free initiative directed at a comprehensive approach to tackling graffiti. The first step took place in April, when Asheville City Council passed new civil fines for offenders.
Graffiti hurts the community, businesses and business growth. It reduces property values and can lead to increased crime activity. Report graffiti vandalism in progress by calling 911. To report graffiti vandalism on city-owned property, call (828) 252-1110 or use the Asheville App. To report tagging in Buncombe County, call (828) 250-6670.
Find more information about Asheville’s 123 Graffiti Free Initiative on the Projects Page.
July 11, 2014
The latest section of sidewalk in a network of sidewalks serving North Louisiana Avenue is under construction as crews begin pouring concrete on the 800 linear feet linkage. The sidewalk project is the fifth in a planned six sections totaling 5,580 linear feet that create a safe pedestrian corridor from Patton Avenue to just past Emma Elementary School.
Economic investment in sidewalks connects communities and the North Louisiana sidewalks make the neighborhood safer for pedestrians, giving students and parents at Emma Elementary the option to walk from nearby homes. They also encourage economic growth by providing access to business corridors like Patton Avenue for customers and employees alike.
“The residents, business owners and property owners in this area have been amazingly supportive of this project,” said Senior Project Manager John Gavin. “And they contributed to its success by donating the necessary construction easements we needed for completion.”
This linkage from North Louisiana Business Park to the city limits at Skyview Terrace is funded by Community Development Block Grant Funds with the cooperation of the NCDOT, which owns and maintains North Louisiana Avenue. The linkage is anticipated to be completed by early August, 2014.
Other sections of sidewalk on North Louisiana Avenue utilized a combination of Safe Routes to Schools funding, federal CDBG funds and a Job Access/Reverse Commute grant through the Federal Transit Administration.
Completed sidewalk construction on Patton Avenue were paid for with City of Asheville capital improvement project funds.
June 25, 2014
As part of a push to eliminate graffiti in the City of Asheville, the city will assist property owners in cleaning up graffiti between July 1 and September 30, 2014, but there’s no need to wait to sign up.
As of Monday, June 16, property owners can use the online Asheville App (ashevillenc.gov/ashevilleapp) to sign up ahead of the July 1 start date. Click the graffiti category and type “I’d like help with graffiti clean up,” along with the address, in the fields provided to go ahead and get on the list for graffiti removal.
The City of Asheville, with help from an anonymous donor, is providing up to $500.00 in graffiti clean up per building, with an agreement that the property owner pays costs above $500.00.
June 17, 2014
Six months in and the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is well underway as specialized contractors begin the highly visible streambed relocation along the Swannanoa River at Gashes Creek Road.
Despite the scale of this project to manage high waters during floods and install infrastructure improvements and roadway access, the facilities at Recreation Park such as the picnic area, pool and the WNC Nature Center remain open to the public.
“This is a big project, but we understand that as we move into the summer, people are going to want to use this park,” said Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates. “There are designated construction areas in place which will allow the park to remain usable.” Access to the river at the park will be limited as work begins on the streambed relocation this week, Coates says. “We do want people to stay out of the construction area,” he said.
Keeping the project rolling involves managing several specific tasks at the same time:
One of the main fixtures of the project is the relocation of the streambed next to Recreation Park. The section currently has a sharp turn that, during high water, erodes and potentially undermines the embankment beneath Azalea Road. A contractor has already cleared vegetation along to site and begun moving fill from one bank to the other and over the next few weeks, work will increase at that site.
Straightening the bend in the river will ease erosion on the bank, while boulders placed in the streambed will slow water as it moves downstream.
Park amenities like picnic pavilions and the Recreation Park Pool are still open for the park’s most popular season.
Crews have completed pilings for a bridge that will tie into the new roadway connecting the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex with Gashes Creek Road, a move that will introduce a smoother traffic pattern and incorporate infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. Next, crews will begin building the bridge abutments for the 150-foot bridge span across the Swannanoa River.
The construction team is removing fill from a plain that runs along the river, a move that will allow water a place to go in cases of high flood waters.
On the other side of the Swannanoa River, trucks are compacting dirt along the future site of the road that will connect to the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.
Work on phase one of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is anticipated to be complete in December. Click here more information.
June 9, 2014
The City of Asheville’s partnership with NC811 is a great way to keep people safe from injury and reduce damage to underground utilities by encouraging people to “Call Before You Dig.” Residents can call “811” and a technician will mark the underground utilities before digging begins.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has declared April 2014 as “Safe Digging Month,” and new legislation passed by the NC General Assembly goes into effect in October that increases accountability and the ability to track and find underground utilities. The City of Asheville is already preparing for the change.
In training session in April and May, the city’s Water Resources and Public Works Departments learned how the changes affect Asheville and the city’s performance as a partner with NC811.
“We want the transition to be seamless, and for our people to have the information they need to perform at the highest level of professionalism,” says Water Resources Operations Manager Ivan Thomas.
In fact, Thomas says, crews are already implementing the changes described in presentations given by NC811 representative Mark Schuman.
“For years, the City of Asheville has been a great partner in spreading the message of NC811: Always call before you dig, not only to protect you, but also the public. No job is ever too important to not take the time to perform safely,” Schuman says.
Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates says the changes back up the level of professionalism the division strives for.
“One of the incoming requirements is that all new stormwater facilities be made locatable,” Coates says. “This is a move that helps everyone – us, residents, developers and NC811. So we are glad to be moving forward and putting the new legislation into action.”
If you are planning an outdoor improvement project, safety starts before the shovel hits the dirt. Underground utility lines can be anywhere and accidentally running into one while digging could result in service outages, fines or even injury. Simply call 811 and technicians will mark underground utilities like water, sewer, power or phone lines for free before you even break ground.
The City of Asheville Water Resources and Public Works Department participate alongside many other utility providers in the area as part of the NC811 One Call service to locate and mark underground utility lines on your property so you don’t have to dig in the dark.
For more information, go to www.nc811.org or to www.ashevillenc.gov.
May 8, 2014
The demolition of the downtown city-owned vacant parking structure at 68 Haywood Street near the corner of Page Avenue is slated to begin the second week of March and be completed by the end of the month. Use of the parking structure, sometimes called the Handipark, was discontinued due to safety reasons in 2010.
Outside contractors could begin installing safety fences and barricades as soon as Feb. 28, and demolition is scheduled to begin March 11. Nearby businesses have been consulted and the city’s project manager says the demolition will take into consideration the sensitive location and populated area.
“This demolition is taking place in an area that has a high rate of foot and vehicle traffic, and is in close proximity to many neighboring buildings and businesses,” said project manager John Gavin. “We have taken measures to make sure that the structure is removed with minimal disturbance.”
No blasting will take place during the demolition, and seismic sensors were installed in mid-February to gather data on ground disturbance. Work will take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Additionally, work will stop between March 6 and March 11 to allow for the SoCon Basketball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center, which is expected to attract thousands of fans to that location. During the demolition process, the contractor will be responsible for security at the site.
On completion, the open area at that location will be stabilized with retaining walls and surrounded by a safety railing.
Questions or concerns from the community can be directed to John Gavin, Project Manager, (828) 232-4580.
For more information and updates about this project go to the Project Page at http://ow.ly/u4K1n.
February 27, 2014
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.
You can find more information on the status of this project at the City of Asheville Projects Page.
February 26, 2014
Things are happening along the Swannanoa River. The river banks adjacent to Azalea Road and Gashes Creek road are undergoing a makeover that will not only ease one stream bank at the City of Asheville’s Recreation Park, but will also relocate a section of the Swannanoa to have less impact during high water events. Since December, heavy earth moving equipment has been visible making changes to the landscape in the area that will greatly improve multimodal park access and safety.
What is it?
Phase I of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road Improvements Project is an effort to better manage high water during flood events and create new and improved infrastructure for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists at one of the City of Asheville’s most popular park complexes.
This flood control project involves lowering a streamside multi-use field to the east of the GashesCreekBridge to give high waters a place to expand when the Swannanoa crests its banks. Another step will install breaks to slow the water down as is passes through RecreationPark. Both moves protect property and infrastructure downstream. The relocation of the stream just west of the GashesCreekBridge will straighten a curve in the river, lessening the impact it has on the steep bank below Swannanoa River Road near the intersection with Azalea Road. This will reduce stream bank erosion in that location and prevent undercutting of the roadway.
Why was this location chosen?
The SwannanoaRiver, flowing from BlackMountain to its confluence with the French BroadRiver in West Asheville, is one of Asheville’s major water corridors and can be greatly affected by heavy rain events. In past rain events, flooding on the SwannanoaRiver has affected BiltmoreVillage, Swannanoa River Road and surrounding businesses and residences.
Because of the surrounding park facilities, work can be conducted in the area with minimum disruption to businesses that line other parts of this section of the river.
The location is considered part on an ongoing flood remediation study by the Army Corps of Engineers, says the city’s Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates.
An added benefit is the partnership with NCDOT to make improvements at the intersection of NC 81 and Azalea Road. NCDOT plans to install a traffic signal and turn lane along NC 81 which will benefit users ofthe WNCNatureCenter, RecreationPark and the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.
How does the new infrastructure fit in?
“When we have large projects like the stream bank improvement plan, it makes sense to combine these efforts and go after some needed sidewalks, waterline and roadway improvements while you are in there,” Coates said. The City is also excited to be partnering with the NCDOT for the installation of a new traffic signal and turn lane at the intersection of NC 81 and Azalea Road.
Sidewalks, a bike path, road improvements and a one-way roadway facility down into the soccer complex will improve access to one of Asheville’s most popular park facilities. Additionally, the soccer complex will get a long-needed water line installed to serve the user of the facility.
Detail from the plans for Phase I of the Azalea Road/Lake Craig Project
How is it funded?
Phase I of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road Improvements project is financed by a mix of state and City of Asheville funds. The total project cost is $3.7 million dollars. The Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005 allocated funding for these types of projects, and covers $1,143,380 of the total project cost. The remainder is funded through the Sullivans Act funding in the amount of $2,748,002 and the city’s Water Resources Department ($371,127),
Phase I of the project is expected to be completed by December 2014. Leading up to the groundbreaking, project engineers and city staff held three community meetings to take input and inform the public about the impact of the construction and the benefits of the project’s completion. Special attention has been paid to coordinate and minimize the impact of construction during special events for the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex, the WNCNatureCenter and RecreationPark.
“We know this is an extremely popular area,” Coates said. “We don’t want this to interfere with any soccer tournaments or NatureCenter events. Summer is a big time around here.”
Asheville City Council approved Phase I of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road Improvement Project October 22, 2013.
February 5, 2014