The Gospel According to Jerry

Ladies and gentlemen!!!! From the producers of “Murdock Madness,” “Kimberly KonKrete Kar Krushers” and “Macon Mayhem” now comes their final (we hope) chapter: “Charlotte Street Constipation,” featuring “multimodal” (which sounds like a laxative but, when combined with reducing Charlotte Street to three lanes, is actually the perfect recipe for gridlock).

This exciting scenario is part of a continuing strategy on the part of the elite inhabitants of the Kimberly Avenue/Edwin Place/Charlotte Street area to keep the Great Unwashed from invading their neighborhood while en route to destinations north and south of it.

The goal is to make traveling this corridor in the nefarious pursuit of transportation to work, school, doctors or grocery stores so difficult that those undeserving folks will be forced to use the already overcrowded Merrimon Avenue or even Interstate 26 instead.

These elite residents have cunningly convinced the city administration that their only interest in getting Charlotte Street three-laned is to provide access for pedestrians and bikers. They profess to be afraid to walk on the sidewalks, which they say are too close to the traffic. I’ve walked these sidewalks for many decades with no such fear, however, and to my knowledge, there have been no pedestrian accidents due to the proximity of cars.

The real problem with the sidewalks is not that they’re too narrow but that they have broken pavement. Bushes and shrubbery from the adjacent properties encroach on the sidewalk space, forcing pedestrians to veer into the street. Telephone poles sprout up smack in the middle of the sidewalk, and the curb cuts are rough and uneven.

All of these issues could be addressed, via repairs and better enforcement of existing city ordinances, at a much lower cost and with far less inconvenience than reducing Charlotte Street to three lanes.

Meanwhile, the city doesn’t even know exactly how much right of way, if any, it has for expanding the sidewalks. I inquired about this and they said it could be determined only by an in-depth study. How deep would a study have to be to send out two people with a tape measure to take four or five readings and make a reasonable determination?

To my knowledge, there’s never been a survey done to see if the property owners might be willing to donate some additional right of way to accommodate sidewalks and maybe bike paths as an alternative to the proposed three lanes, which would devastate their businesses. That kind of solution, though, would be the elitists’ worst nightmare, because their real goal is diverting traffic. Bike paths and sidewalks are just a smoke screen.

Unfortunately, in its zeal to enhance walkability, city government has fallen for this multimodal scam. Have they forgotten that there are scores of miles of city streets in other neighborhoods that have no sidewalks? Shouldn’t their first priority be to provide sidewalks to ensure the safety of those residents living outside this hallowed corridor?

They recently spent $50,000 from their overstretched budget to commission yet another study, which found little significant benefit from such a change. The results of the previous three studies were inconclusive. Nonetheless, the elitists keep on pushing for three-laning Charlotte Street.

It’s now up to residents to vehemently object to this travesty.

Suppose you get stuck behind a bus. It’s illegal to pass in the center lane, so the traffic will jam up for blocks. And if you live in this part of north Asheville, just hope you don’t have a heart attack or stroke and your house doesn’t catch on fire during rush hour, because there’ll be no place for the fire trucks and ambulances to get through. Oh, and don’t even think about making a left turn or entering Charlotte from a side street.

Before this horrendous production goes any further, contact your City Council person and ask them to stop the show. As we continue to suffer the dangerous indignities already inflicted on Kimberly, Edwin Place and Macon Avenue by these proprietary elitists, let’s make certain they don’t get another curtain call.

— Asheville native Jerry Sternberg, a longtime observer of the local scene, can be reached at gospeljerry@aol.com.

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