Putting a name on the I-26 debate

There has been no shortage of stances in the I-26 connector debate. Resolutions have been passed, endorsements made. Buncombe County and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce have supported the option known as Alternative 3. Asheville City Council and several community groups and developers have backed the Asheville Design Center-initiated Alternative 4b. (See Xpress ongoing coverage at www.mountainx.com/topics/find/I-26).

Taking it to the street: A petition effort to support the I-26 connector option 4b is being crafted by several residents of the Burton Street neighborhood, who met at the Burton Street Community Center last week. Pictured, from left to right, are Yvette Jives, Asheville Citizen-Times writer Rob Neufeld, Vivian Conley, Austin Hill and Sofi Mahaba. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Now a group of community members is asking Asheville residents to attach their names to the cause. Several Asheville residents, including some living in and near the Burton Street neighborhood, are drafting a petition firmly in support of Alternative 4b. The historically African-American neighborhood would be heavily affected by the adoption of Alternative 3.

“There’s a lot of history there, and there’s a lot of families there,” says Austin Hill, an A-B Tech student and WPVM volunteer who lives near the neighborhood and is helping draft the petition.

The draft praises 4B for its separation of local and interstate traffic and for providing a renewed connectivity between West Asheville and downtown.

All of that, says Hill, figures into the language put to paper so far, which calls for an I-26 plan that “places the fostering and preservation of community as the primary considerations from which all other decisions are made.”

The group is still hashing out the final language and working on disseminating the petition through print and online outlets, and plans to have a final draft circulating within a week.

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3 thoughts on “Putting a name on the I-26 debate

  1. Gordon Smith

    Unfortunately the DOT’s most recent revision of Alternative 4B now has it cutting into Burton St. neighborhood.

  2. Joe Minicozzi

    Gordon:
    Word has it that 4b no longer does this and that Alternate 3′s impact to the Burton Street neighborhood is also being modified to minimize housing takings, though I don’t think they will be able to eliminate housing takings. Again, these are all verbals at this point.

    Though NCDOT will be able to adjust Alternate 3 to minimize the impact to Burton Street (the jury is still out until we see the drawings to see if any houses still get taken), Alternate 3 does not separate the interstate traffic from Patton, nor will they be able to do that with the design of that alignment. So the design will have that root failure eventhough it is listed as the primary concern in the community request of 2000.

  3. Gordon Smith

    Thanks, Joe.

    Sounds like the whole situation is really fluid.

    How can folks help right now to preserve Burton St. neighborhood and ensure that local traffic is separated from interstate?

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