Considering the alternatives

The Asheville Design Center (ADC), which has been involved voluntarily with the work on the I-26 project since 2006, anticipates that the N.C. Department of Transportation will vote soon to include Alternate 4b in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). When this happens, we will have better data available to plan and communicate changes that will make this project fit the community even better. With the information we currently have—and considering the community conversation on the project—we’ve indexed some of the potential results of the alternative routes, with specific consideration of the two alternates that seem to have received the most attention: Alternates 3 and 4b (see images of the right-of-way footprints). With homage to Harper’s Magazine, the following index is a simple way to look at some of the information that we’ve gathered and interpreted so far.

Asheville Design Center I-26 comparisons

• Houses in Burton Street Neighborhood taken by Alternate 3: over 25
• Houses in Burton Street Neighborhood taken by other alternates combined: 3
• Alternate taking the 2nd most houses taken in Emma (total number): Alternate 3 (39)
• Alternate taking the fewest houses in Emma (total number): Alternate 4b (3)
• Alternate that takes the most houses (total number): Alternate 3 (61)
• Alternate that takes the fewest houses (total number): Alternate 4b (23)
• Alternate that takes the fewest number of businesses: Alternate 4b
• Alternate with greatest acreage kept off the tax base: Alternate 3
• Total right-of-way size of Alternate 3 for Section B: 312 acres
• Number of Grove Arcades that will fit in 312 acres: 156
• Alternate with the most vehicle level of service “failures” determined by NCDOT: Alternate 3
• Alternates that separate Interstate traffic from Patton Ave/Smoky Park bridge: Alternates 4 and 4b
• The Alternates that offer best potential to develop Patton as a boulevard with adjacent buildings: 4 and 4b
• Total potential value of new buildings built along Patton: $456 million
• Potential 50-year total loss in city, county, and school taxes without Patton redevelopment: $532 million
• That cost today to local taxpayers as a Net Present Value (NPV): $111 million
• Potential number of jobs in those buildings along Patton: 5,700
• Total number of potential jobs in this same area with Alternates 2 and 3: 0
• Potential number of housing units in Patton Avenue redevelopment area: 1,600
• Total savings in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by having these residential units as infill: 37,700,000
• Gallons of gas saved by these residents every year: 1,900,000
• Tons of CO2 saved by these residents over 50 years: 2,350
• Alternate that has the greatest amount of stream impact: Alternate 3
• Number of community groups that received the Asheville Design Center presentation: over 120
• Alternates that meet the City’s 2025 Plan: Alternates 4 and 4b
• Alternates that meet the City’s Bike Plan: Alternates 4 and 4b
• Alternate that is endorsed by Westgate owner, who is a Chamber member: Alternate 4b
• Only Alternate to cut off a mass-transit line: Alternate 3
• Transit line and service area dislocated by Alternate 3: Route 16, Emma/West Asheville

[Joe Minicozzi is certified city planner with a masters of architecture in urban design from Harvard University. He works for Public Interest Projects and volunteers as board chair for the Asheville Design Center (www.ashevilledesigncenter.org).]

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One thought on “Considering the alternatives

  1. Robert Griffin

    When Leni Sitnick was mayor we met with DOT at the Radisson hotel. At that time the city and citizens recommended an alternate that had the same goals as 4b. Any time lost during this process is directly attributable to DOT for not responding to that request sooner. It is a shame that it has taken so much additional time for the Citizens of Asheville to finally get DOT to consider an EIS for a suitable alternative which responds to early city and citizen input.

    In difficult times like these Asheville can not afford to ignore basic urban planning truths.

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