On June 11, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Lyndo Tippett visited the Asheville Design Center to hear a presentation of ADC’s alternative plan for the I-26 Connector. Attendees of the unpublicized meeting included state represntatives Susan Fisher and Bruce Goforth, state Sen. Tom Apodaca, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, City Councill members Bryan Freeborn and Brownie Newman, County commissioners Nathan Ramsey and Carol Peterson, and Transportation Board member Alan Thornburg. The meeting was arranged by Goforth.
The ADC design is estimated to cost $100 million less than the plan advanced by DOT, use one third of the asphalt and half the land area, return the Smoky Park Bridges (Patton Ave.) to local use with pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and require less than half the total number of bridges advocated by state planners.
Those present expressed their desire to see this plan included in the DOT’s environmental-impact statement process, which is currently underway. DOT should finish this analysis by the end of this year, and select a final plan by January 2008. Thornburg said that DOT is currently doing an analysis of the plan and will present the department’s preliminary findings to Asheville City Council on June 26.
“Based upoon the comments that were made, the plan is going to get a good preliminary evaulation,” Bellamy told Xpress after the meeting.
Newman concurred. “I think it was very positive,” said. “Tippett seemed to listen carefully to the presentation. He made several positive remarks about how the design would benefit the community. Mayor Bellamy, Commissioner Carol Peterson and members of the legislative delegation all communicated that this design is what the community wants.” Newman added that he hopes Tippett will “communicate with his DOT staff to give the proposal a fair hearing and to try to find a way to support the proposal, rather than trying to find reasons it can’t be done.”
For more information and a look at ADC’s latest drawings click here.
— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer