Filed under: Public Works

Getting geared up for snow duty!

Fall means many things in Asheville : colorful views, leaf lookers, raking, and bagged leaf pickup. For the City of Asheville’s Public Works Department, it also means gearing up for snow events. That process kicks off in an annual October ritual as crews set up and test plows and salt spreaders.

snow1snow2snow3On Tuesday, Public Works personnel gathered behind the Public Works facility on South Charlotte Street to conduct a dry run of the equipment and to make sure it’s all functional so crews can hit the ground running at the first snowy forecast.

“Salt is very hard on equipment,” says Labor Crew Coordinator Tony Chapman. “We want to load up all the equipment and make sure it all works. And we want to make sure that when it’s time to load up, we’ll be ready to go.” It’s all part of providing the best service possible to the city’s residents and visitors.

Over the course of the day, 18 salt spreaders and some 26 plows are loaded onto Public Works trucks and examined for any problems. If any fixes are needed, the equipment goes to the Fleet Division for repairs.

The run-through also serves as a warm up for new crew members so they know exactly how to rig up the trucks when snow begins to fall. Getting the fleet ready to run is a process that can take four to six hours, Chapman says.

This year, the City of Asheville will also employ four new brine tanks used to pre-treat roads ahead of ice and snow. “That way, we can be ahead of the curve,” Chapman said.

For updates during snow events, follow the City of Asheville on Twitter or check in at www.ashevillenc.gov.

Leave a Comment October 21, 2014

Graffiti Dashboard finalist for NC Tech Award

The North Carolina Technology Association has announced that the City of Asheville’s 123 Graffiti Free Dashboard is among the finalists for the 2014 Tech Awards. The online tool is one of four finalists in the “Business Value” category under “Use of Technology,” and was selected from more than 500 nominations. It is also the only example of public sector tech among the finalists.

Cameron

IT GIS Analyst Cameron Carlyle with the 123 Graffiti  Free dashboard.

“This tool was designed to allow the public easy access to information, and to clearly illustrate the progress the 123 Graffiti Free program was making in the community,” said Business & Public Technology Manager Scott Barnwell. “Ease of use and transparency are the kinds of roles tech should be playing in the world.”

The dashboard was designed by Cameron Carlyle, the newest member of the Information Technology Services team, with the collaboration of the Graffiti Team, the Office of Planning and Multimodal Transportation and the Office of Communication and Public Engagement.

With a visit to 123GraffitiFree.com users can see the number of requests made for graffiti cleanup, the number of jobs completed, and the amount invested by the City of Asheville. They can also track individual projects and see a map showing locations of graffiti cleanup sites.

In July, the city launched the 123 Graffiti Free cleanup assistance program offering $500 in cleanup assistance to property owners. Property owners who have not participated in the program are eligible through September 30, 2015 (or until funding runs out) for a one-time $500 incentive to help clean up graffiti on their site.

The NC Tech award winners will be announced on November 6.

Leave a Comment October 17, 2014

Roads impacted by 2013 landslides get rebuild

BentTreesmallLast 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.

Leave a Comment September 11, 2014

Haywood Road to be restriped in time for Craven Street closure

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.

haywoodrdThe 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.

Leave a Comment August 20, 2014

Dashboard tracks and reports graffiti cleanup progress

Follow along with 123 Graffiti Free! A new online dashboard tracks the City of Asheville’s progress on the 123 Graffiti Freeblogdash cleanup assistance initiative. The dashboard, produced in collaboration between the city’s Public Works and IT Services Departments, displays the number of graffiti cleanup requests, the number of cases completed and the amount of money the City of Asheville has spent so far.

Through September 30, the city is offering property owners $500 in graffiti cleanup assistance as part of the 123 Graffiti Free cleanup initiative, and Asheville City Council has allocated $300,000 toward the cleanup effort. As of August 5, there were with 62 cleanup requests completed and in all cases of private property requests, the city’s $500 investment has covered the entire cost of removal or repainting with no money required from property owners.

Graffiti harms communities, and removing graffiti from property within 48 hours has been shown to be a deterrent to vandals. Report graffiti on public property or request cleanup assistance on private property with the Asheville App, email 123graffitifree@ashevillenc.gov, or call (828) 259-5960.

1 Comment August 5, 2014

Public Works Association recognizes City of Asheville employees

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.

KathiPublic 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.”

LeeThe 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.

Lyle

Click below to see the presentation to Asheville City Council.

Leave a Comment July 25, 2014

Craven Street improvement project begins July 21

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. Craven2

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.

Leave a Comment July 18, 2014

City launches 123 Graffiti Free cleanup assistance program

123-graffiti-free
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 123graffitifree@ashevillenc.gov, 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.

Leave a Comment July 11, 2014

New North Louisiana Ave sidewalk construction underway

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.NLouisiana

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.

Leave a Comment June 25, 2014

Sign up now for graffiti removal assistance

123-graffiti-freeAs 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.

Leave a Comment June 17, 2014

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