Asheville on Bikes makes residents’ comments on Merrimon Avenue widening available online

Press release from Asheville on Bikes:

Asheville on Bikes publishes public database of comments sent to NCDOT about controversial road widening proposal in Asheville, NC.

As part of their work to advocate for Complete Streets, Asheville on Bikes releases the complete text of 95 public comments as sent to NCDOT in January 2018 about the agency’s plans to widen Merrimon Ave.

Asheville, NC, Feb 28, 2018—The non-profit bicycle transportation advocacy group Asheville on Bikes asked the general public for copies of comments sent to NCDOT about the impending Merrimon Ave road widening project, STIP U-5781 and U-5782. As presented, NCDOT’s initial designs would result in a 5-lane road with increased traffic speeds and minimal room for bike lanes.

Now, people across the country are invited to read those comments in a public database or download them in pdf form.

The database of NCDOT public comments sent to Asheville on Bikes is available here:

It is rare for the general public to have the opportunity to look over the shoulder of a state DOT and see the full text of actual public comments in a timely fashion. Though many road building projects publish a summary and excerpts from public comments received, often only the project engineers read the comments in full.

“These public comments are a valuable read for anyone in our community,” says Mike Sule, Executive Director of Asheville on Bikes. “The statements are full of compelling stories and insight from parents, homeowners, business owners, commuters, students, bike riders, and pedestrians. Many people provided alternative visions for the future of our roads and our city, which must include streets built to accommodate all modes of transportation, not just cars.”

Asheville on Bikes’ efforts resulted in efficient and more complete access to public opinion on proposed road widening.

Asheville on Bikes volunteers spent about a week building the database and analyzing the comments. NCDOT has explained that it will take their own organization more than a month to analyze the comments, and they have yet to characterize the feedback they have received. The Asheville on Bikes public comment database represents a portion of the total comments sent to NCDOT for the proposed Merrimon Avenue road widening.

“Any Complete Street or bicycle or pedestrian advocate should be interested in this,” continued Sule. “By having people send copies of their own public comments to your organization, you can better hold road builders and engineers accountable to the actual feedback they are receiving.”


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