ASHEVILLE – The final touches are underway on two sections of sidewalk along Patton Avenue that provide safer walking routes for pedestrians along the busy corridor. The two linkages, one from Parkwood Road to Leicester Highway and another from Regent Park Boulevard to the Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge (formerly the Smokey Park Bridge), total a combined 4,150 linear feet of new sidewalk but link together a much larger network of sidewalks that stretches from the Capt. Bowen Bridge all the way to the Smokey Park Highway. The route gets a high rate of use by pedestrians for its connection to retail and grocery stores along Patton as well as its proximity to bus stops on the City of Asheville ART system.
“This one really rose to the top in our pedestrian master plan,” said City Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “And it provides walking access to multiple stores, the Westgate shopping center and along the interchange at Patton Avenue, I-26 and I-240 which was tricky for pedestrians to say the least.”
The design includes safety railings along shoulders where traffic is exiting and entering the interstates and involved a collaboration between the City of Asheville and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The Patton Avenue connections are just two examples of several sidewalk projects that are in some stage of development in the City of Asheville, including another recently completed section on North Louisiana Avenue, a section under construction on Lyman Street in the River Arts District, and a stretch along Tunnel Road in collaboration with the NCDOT that is underway and will eventually connect downtown to the ABCCM Veteran’s Quarters. A sidewalk project along Hendersonville Road is in the planning stages.
The City of Asheville pedestrian plan identifies 110 miles of needed pedestrian linkages that are prioritized using several factors including proximity to community destinations, safety concerns and feasibility of construction.
In the case of the two Patton Avenue connectors, those factors all added up to a green light. “This one really jumped off the charts,” said Greg Shuler, the city’s streets and engineering manager. “We are fortunate that City Council has put a high priority on this kind of infrastructure,” Shuler said.
The Patton Avenue linkages were paid for with City of Asheville capital improvement project funds, but sidewalk projects throughout the city are funded through a combination of sources, including Community Development Block Grants and federal funding like Safe Routes to Schools which provides money for projects that make it easy and safe for students to walk to school. The North Louisiana sidewalk project that connects neighboring students with Emma Elementary School combined Safe Routes to Schools funding with federal CDBG funds and a Job Access/Reverse Commute grant through the Federal Transit Administration.
For more information about the City of Asheville’s Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan, go to www.ashevillenc.gov.