I-26 Connector Public Forum Reminder

Mark Your Calendars:

Public Meeting on I-26 Connector 4B Alternative
Tuesday, September 20, 7pm
New Isaac Dickson Elementary School Auditorium
125 Hill Street

4b

 

Suzanne Devane

With the decision earlier this year by NCDOT to move forward with the 4B Alternative as its preferred option for Section B of the I-26 Connector proposal, the project that never actually happens appears to be back on track and poised for construction. Because the MNA took a broad position on this project in 2009 that has not been adequately responded to in the 4B Alternative, the MNA Board is convening a community forum on Tuesday evening, September 20, so we can hear directly from NCDOT officials about the project and its ramifications not only to Montford, but also to Asheville’s western front door to downtown. (For the MNA position in 2009: montford.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/I-26-Montford-Position-7_18.pdf)

The goal of the meeting is to provide residents of Asheville—on the east side of the French Broad River living or working north of the Bowen Bridge—with a realistic understanding of whether any potential design adjustments can be made to remedy the negative impacts that will accompany the construction of 4B. The MNA Board has asked the Department of Transportation to send officials who will be able to answer design and mitigation questions with specific, detailed answers.

Many people think the 4B Alternative is the design conceived by the Asheville Design Center in 2008, but that’s wrong—it’s radically different. As a result, a great deal of clarification is needed to ensure people understand the consequences of building 4B as presented by NCDOT. The MNA I-26 Connector Committee has asked NCDOT to provide the following:

  • A detailed Project Design including height elevations (from highest to lowest points) for the 5-story tall I-26 structures and the I-240 flyovers; number and location of lanes relative to the current highway structures; a primer of the issues that NCDOT took into consideration in designing the 4B Alternative presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), and what the Department will need to take into consideration when determining the final overall height, width, location, and number of lanes.
  • An updated list and location of residential and commercial properties that will be impacted by the project in terms of full or partial eminent domain takings; as well as an indication of which residences, businesses, and historical/cultural landmarks will likely suffer negative visual impacts from the elevated highways and the construction of any sound walls.
  • A discussion of noise impacts including how many homes will experience noise level increases at varying points from the elevated highways, including a full explanation of the exact locations where any potential sound walls could be built, as well as the identification of and explanation for locations where they would not be feasible or effective.
  • Clarification as to where additional lanes of I-26 would be built relative to Riverside Drive because the land at the entire western edge of Montford poses a high or moderate hazard in terms of land stability and is a potential debris flow pathway. It is critical to know what NCDOT will do to ensure the structural integrity of the homes situated above.
  • Discussion of air pollution impacts on the children going to school at the new Isaac Dickson Elementary School and living in Hillcrest due to the major increase in commercial vehicles and cars that will be traveling in proximity to these two sensitive areas.

We urge all concerned residents to mark their calendars and attend this forum while there is still time to have a say on a project that will change the face of Asheville forever. Mayor Esther Manheimer, Council members Cecil Bothwell and Gordon Smith, as well as State Representative Susan Fisher have all committed to being at the forum. We will be handing out cards for written questions from the audience, so please come prepared to participate! You can view the full list of issues we’ve asked NCDOT to address at:
http://montford.org/?page_id=5870