Two ardent supporters of two very different plans for the controversial I-26 connector, Asheville City Council member Brownie Newman and Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick Lutovsky, will make their cases on Wednesday at an Asheville Leadership Forum luncheon.
Lutovksy and the chamber have announced their support for the plan known as Alternative 3, which has been controversial because it would demolish about 24 homes in the predominantly African-American Burton Street area. Earlier this month, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners narrowly endorsed this alternative.
Lutovsky has touted faster travel times, a lesser impact on the Montford neighborhood and lower construction costs as some of the chamber’s reasons for supporting Alternative 3.
Newman, along with the overwhelming majority of City Council, support Alternative 4b, a plan developed by the Asheville Design Center that aims to disrupt less land and fewer local residents. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has estimated that 4b would have a higher cost, something the ADC contests, asserting that money saved on land acquisition — and kept on the tax rolls — would outweigh increased construction costs.
The DOT will decide on an alternative this summer.
The event begins at 11:45 a.m. at the Buncombe County Board of Education. Admission is $16 for the general public, $14 for forum members.
— David Forbes, staff writer