The much-talked about New Belgium brewery project comes before Asheville City Council Jan. 22, along with $220,000 in road improvements intended to help with traffic in the area.
Sitting on 19.8 acres in the River District, the proposal for a $175 million, 205,737 square feet facility will create 130 new jobs and bring the major brewer into the heart of Asheville. However, some neighborhood residents are concerned about the impact of increased truck traffic, and if the area’s aging infrastructure can properly handle it, even with improvements planned as part of the project.
In 2015, the first year of operation, traffic from the brewery will add an estimated six trucks to Haywood Road’s traffic, and by full operations in 2022, 52 trucks. The city’s impact study determined that would double the amount of truck traffic through the area.
“While the traffic study indicates that Haywood Road can handle the additional truck traffic, the additional trucks would create more conflicts for other users of the roadway including bikes and pedestrians,” a staff memo about road improvements related to the project notes.
At a Jan. 2 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the board voted 4-2 to approve the project, but with a series of conditions including routing 70 percent of New Belgium’s truck traffic away from Haywood Road. City staff have not agreed with that last condition, and are recommending Council approve the project without requiring the re-routing of the trucks.
As a related matter, Council is voting on $220,000 in sidewalks to help address the concerns about truck routes in the area, including $50,000 from New Belgium. The measure also calls for studying raising a nearby rail overpass and improving the Craven Street Bridge and Riverside Drive to allow trucks to take an alternate route.
Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, on the second floor of City Hall.