Commissioners will hold special meeting on I-26 connector

Buncombe County Commissioner K. Ray Bailey, who cast the deciding vote to delay an endorsement of a plan for the future I-26 connector at the board’s Tuesday night meeting, has now called for a special meeting to resolve the matter—and he’s got the support to do it. The meeting will be at noon next Tuesday, Dec. 23.

“I did it so that we can make a decision,” Bailey told Xpress. “There were a couple of questions I had that have been answered.”

Bailey’s call for a special meeting was backed by Commissioner Carol Peterson and Vice Chair Bill Stanley, who voted against a delay on Tuesday. The two said the board had enough information to make a decision and the matter had been delayed often in the past.

Chair David Gantt told Xpress that he was personally against holding a special meeting, but “three commissioners want it, so we’ll do it.”

At Tuesday’s regular county board meeting, Bailey, Gantt, and Commissioner Holly Jones favored a delay so the board would have more time to consider an alternative route, known as 4b, brought forward by the Asheville Design Center. The alternative is intended to separate local and interstate traffic while resulting in less land disruption. Design center planners asserted at the meeting that the N.C. Department of Transportation was still assessing the cost and environmental impact of that alternative, and that any decision before those results came in wouldn’t be “comparing apples to apples,” in the words of Design Center Chairman Alan McGuinn. The cost of the 4b alternative might also be less than currently estimated by the DOT, McGuinn said.

Bailey indicated at the Tuesday meeting that “4b doesn’t do a whole lot for me. But we need to look and make sure we’re making the right decision” and that he was unclear about DOT’s schedule and what they wanted from the board. However, he declined to tell Xpress which alternative he favors.

“I’m not ready to reveal that yet,” he said.

— David Forbes, staff writer

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3 thoughts on “Commissioners will hold special meeting on I-26 connector

  1. From Scrutiny Hooligans:

    “This move stinks of the same old backroom deals we got used to in the last Commission. K. Ray Bailey marketed himself as someone who considers all sides before coming to any decisions. During the campaign, Bailey said, “Forging partnerships is what I do and that’s what we’d need. Get everyone who’s a player at the table”. He also said, “My real strength is in planning, getting all the info possible to put together the priorities for the County.” He said, “We need a great deal of planning – strategic. What are our community goals? Are we going to have a smart growth plan.”

  2. Bryan Freeborn

    Also from Scrutiny Hooligans:

    “What did you expect? People run on all sorts of platforms only to do what works for their friends, family, and pocket books. Bailey is more of the same. If you did not like the make up of the previous commission and thought a vote for Bailey would be a spectacular shift is like being the deer on the road starring down a mack trucks headlights.

    Who calls the special meeting, the chair, or any majority of commissioners? Here is the first example of what will be four long years of Gantt being chair in name only.”

  3. orz

    I agree with Bailey on one point – that is, Alternative 4b doesn’t do much for me. The design of the ramps for 4b on the west side of the river is not good. High speed on/offramps from Patton guarantee that it will never, ever be an acceptable route for pedestrians or cyclists. 4B uses less land, but that probably won’t save much money, since much of the land that will be saved is in the flood plain, and therefore not developable. 4B has less “ramp spaghetti” than 4, but in my opinion that’s a minor improvement in the face of some pretty serious shortcomings.

    This is all assuming, of course, that 4b hasn’t been modified again since it was first put before the public in September.

    Both Alt 4 and 4b have a poorly designed, land-gobbling interchange on the downtown end as well.

    Anyway, while I do agree with Bailey about 4B, I don’t see what the rush is all about. This is worth taking the time to get right.

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