Charlotte Street “road diet” faces final vote at Nov. 13 meeting

Asheville city seal

Come spring 2019, residents of North Asheville may be preparing to slim down — at least regarding vehicle traffic on Charlotte Street. If City Council votes to approve the proposed Charlotte Street Improvement Project at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, the road would be cut from four car lanes to three, making room for dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian improvements.

While the project has been on the city’s agenda since the 2014-15 fiscal year, Council members only finalized their approach to Charlotte Street in April. Commenters at that meeting largely supported the road diet, although some community members expressed concerns about the reduction of vehicle lanes on emergency service access and traffic congestion.

The city’s adopted capital budget includes $1.25 million for the project, the $155,000 design and administration contract for which was awarded to Pennsylvania-based Traffic Planning & Design after a public request for qualifications. Should Council approve the plan, bidding for construction is projected to begin this winter, with construction to start next spring or summer and finish by fall.

Mike Sule, executive director of Asheville on Bikes, called for citizens to support the project in a Nov. 9 newsletter. “Charlotte Street has the potential to connect a large residential area to downtown; it represents a key link in our future multimodal grid,” he wrote. “It will also be used as a safer route for recreational cyclists who come and go from Elk and Town Mountain.”

City staff also recommend moving forward with the project. In a staff report, Capital Projects Director Jade Dundas listed the implementation of multimodal principles and enhanced safety as advantages of the road diet. However, he noted that the approach could also lead to a “reduced level of service for automobiles and increased queue lengths during peak hours.”

In other business

Council will be asked to consider a revised approach to affordable housing at 360 Hilliard Ave., city-owned land that had previously been earmarked for a 64-unit rental development. Now, the Charleston, S.C.-based Kassinger Development Group in charge of the project wants to shift the project to for-sale condominiums.

As explained by city consultant Jeff Staudinger in a staff report, Kassinger found that “significant increases in construction costs, reflecting national conditions, made the project as proposed unfeasible.” Condos, he wrote, “make financial sense” — if the city also maintains its $1.28 million Housing Trust Fund loan and discounts the land by $375,000.

The number of affordable units in the project would remain the same at 33, with 28 one-bedroom units for sale at $135,000 and 5 two-bedroom condos at $155,000. The remaining 31 units would be market rate: 21 one-bedroom condos at $224,738 and 10 two-bedroom units at $312,800. The developer would pay for the first year of homeowner association fees for the affordable units, but it is unclear what those fees would be moving forward.

Council will also hear an update about its strategic priorities for the year. Accomplishments to date include hiring Yashika Smith as an inclusive engagement and leadership manager, advancing the Riverfront Greenway project, supporting a “tactical urbanism” project on Coxe Avenue and launching a new app service for transit riders.

Consent agenda

The consent agenda for the meeting consists of seven items, which are typically approved as a package unless specifically singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. A work session for the fiscal year 2019-20 budget will be held in the same space starting at 3 p.m. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and city government beat reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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14 thoughts on “Charlotte Street “road diet” faces final vote at Nov. 13 meeting

  1. Local Steve

    You can not approve the change to the Fudrucker’s site and also narrow the road. I really hope the City Council has a bit more critical thinking rather then listen to the loud mionority

    • Lulz

      Not only that, but the overflow will be pushed onto Merrimon that they also want restrict. Seems they are on a mission to rid the city of cars without thinking about the real effects. In the end, all they end up doing is gentrifying the area with wealthier people who don’t need to commute to work.

      Things don’t change until you stop electing people who’s only viewpoints and experience has been in government.

      • Jay Reese

        The City council is only endorsing proven design guidelines adopted by many cities around the world. Giving all users safe access to the streets is the only solution to our transportation and neighborhood quality of life issues. By making driving more difficult and expensive people will seek out alternatives which benefits the community in the long run. We can no longer afford to tolerate the burden the automobile places on our community

      • Jay Reese

        Car ownership places a burden on low I’m one people. These people are better served through active transit options. Also given that the younger generations are avoiding car ownership it only makes sense to develop infrastructure for those future needs. The automobile is a thing of the past and is slowly being phased out in favor of more sustainable, safer and healthier modes of transportation

  2. Curious

    Have the business owners along Charlotte Street been consulted/polled as to their views?

  3. luther blissett

    ‘Condos, he wrote, “make financial sense” — if the city also maintains its $1.28 million Housing Trust Fund loan and discounts the land by $375,000.’

    So it doesn’t make financial sense. Was this a bait and switch by the developer? The proposal agreed last June was for a 50-year lease from the city with an ongoing commitment to affordable rents, and the new proposal is selling the land cheap, dividing the property into private ownership and a one-year waiver of HOA fees. That’s a big difference. What changed in a year?

    • Lulz

      They just told you. Cost of construction went up. Even though local construction companies are still exploiting cheap labor, out of towners are smarter. All you have to do is look at Mission. That project has literally sent the local construction companies in a tizzy because they can’t find suitable help anymore. And it has mainly to do with paying much less than the contractors at Mission who use local labor but pay in most cases 5-10 bucks more an hour.

  4. Julie Hettiger

    As a commuter to North Asheville is: beaverdam
    The possible condo on the corner at the guddruckers site is a a potential disaster for traffic
    I also believe that taking Charlotte Street to 1 one is the wrong thing to do
    Merrimon is already a mess and this will only force more traffic trying to get around both of these thru surrounding neighborhood s
    I Totally am against both the condos and the the proposed bike lane
    Julia Hettiger
    Residents of North Asheville
    Who already use that street as a major thourfare

    • Jason

      I for one am for both items. These improvements can’t be completed fast enough.

    • Jay Reese

      By providing bike lanes people can leave their cars parked thus reducing the amount of traffic. These designs benefit all road users.

      • Christopher

        I like fairy tales also. Mass transit is not an option for the majority. Either is riding a bike. Jay, most likely, has no one but himself to take care and fend for. These changes are short sighted and lack critical thinking. But thats just what AOB does. These changes make it harder for the majority to get around town. Cant wait till all the traffic is speeding thru the side streets, then the City can add more of those ridiculous speed bumps that are just a dangerous to bikers as they are cars. Best part is that the leadership is not only making the locals commutes longer they are going to raise taxes and add a food and beverage tax, which will be paid for by the majority of locals. Spend, Spend Spend!

        • Jay Reese

          I’ve raised two children over the past 30 years and did so most of the time without an automobile. It is not selfish to want a balanced transportation system that is safe and accessible to pedestrians and cyclist. These changes are being made with the future in mind. We no longer have room for everyone to be driving alone in their big vehicle. If you and others weren’t so blinded by your windshield perspective you would have noticed our auto centric transportation system is killing us and the planet and has placed tremendous financial strain on government and citizens alike. Many cities around the world and here in the US are trending away from the gas powered single occupant vehicles towards more sustainable active transportation modes. If anyone lacks critical thinking it is those who by sheer chance were born into a world where the car was the dominant mode of travel. You didn’t even have to question driving as it was a right of passage. You could conviently overlook the 40,000 deaths and hundreds of thousand of injuries due to automobile crashes . You could ignore the fact the automobile is one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. You could delude yourself into thinking we fight all those wars in the Middle East to protect our freedom. But your convenience is more important than all those issue. So now you sit in traffic complaining about how bad everyone else drives and how incompetent the DOT is for not building bigger wider roads then complain when you have to pay for it through user fees.

          You’ll might as well get used to the changes because there will be many more miles of bike lanes, sidewalks and greenways coming.

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