State DOT alters I-26 plan; new one would demolish fewer Burton St. homes

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has modified the Alternative 3 plan for the Interstate 26 connector. The new plan, if adopted, would demolish fewer homes — seven instead of 25 — in the predominantly African-American Burton Street neighborhood.

DOT also modified the Alternative 4b plan, developed by the Asheville Design Center to minimize the impact on the surrounding area and allow more downtown-style development, to take two homes in the Burton Street Area instead of six. The ADC’s original plans called for no homes to be eliminated in the Burton Street area, and the center’s president, Joe Minicozzi, has expressed his frustration with changes made by the department.

“We’re in the process of refining the designs, and we got far along enough to do this last week,” DOT Division Control Engineer Rick Tipton told Xpress. “This is a change we could make.”

Alternatives 3 and 4b have each attracted their defenders in the community. Asheville City Council has endorsed 4b, while the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners endorsed Alternative 3. DOT is still studying and modifying all the alternatives, including two others that haven’t attracted the same levels of support in the community. Alternative 3 would take the most homes — 43 after the revisions — but its proponents have touted decreased driving times, lower estimated building costs and a reduced impact on the Montford neighborhood as its strong points.

At a Jan. 28 debate on the issue, Chamber CEO Rick Lutovsky said that the chamber was communicating with DOT to reduce the chamber’s favored plan’s impact on the Burton Street area.

As devised by the department, both plans would still leave neighborhood residents facing a sound wall, Tipton confirmed.

A trailer park in the Emma area would also be uprooted under Alternative 3, and no changes have been made on that front yet.

“We’re still looking at all the alternatives to better refine them,” Tipton said. “The Buncombe County commissioners had let us know there was a lot of concern about the effect on this area [Burton Street].”

— David Forbes, staff writer


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7 thoughts on “State DOT alters I-26 plan; new one would demolish fewer Burton St. homes

  1. Gordon Smith

    It’s unconscionable to electively take people’s homes when it’s not necessary.

    Alternative 3 still disconnects west Asheville from downtown and does not promote a bikeable, walkable community.

    We supporters of Burton Street neighborhood won’t be supporting any choice to inflict damage upon this neighborhood that’s pulled itself up so far.

    The DOT needs to hear from all corners of the community – Burton St., Montford, and those who want to build an alternative transportation network. We can have the right design, and, judging from the speed with which DOT altered these designs, we can have it fast.

    Check out the Save Burton St. Facebook Group for ongoing info and action alerts:

  2. LOKEL

    Nooooooo, not another trailer park on the West side being destroyed – this is an outrage.

  3. Gordon Smith

    Asheville Can Have a Better Connector

    “The speed with which the DOT altered these designs suggests that there is a lot of room to exert ourselves as a community and agree that we want the I-26 Connector completed quickly and completed with the most benefits to Asheville. Choosing to carve into Burton Street, a neighborhood that is just a couple of years away from being an Asheville success story, is to willingly perpetuate the Urban Renewal disasters that have plagued the African-American community for decades. Asheville can unite around protecting the fragile successes of Burton St. neighborhood.

    We can also choose to move towards a transportation model that reduces traffic, reduces the need for parking decks, is less expensive for workers, and promotes health and community. Alternative 4B promotes connectivity between downtown and west Asheville for alternative transportation. Alternative 3 does not.”

    Read the rest at Scrutiny Hooligans:

  4. Aliasjoe

    Its not just trailers that get hit in Emma. There are standard houses as well. Plus, a trailer is still someone’s home, and is WNC’s answer to one of the most affordable forms of housing.

  5. William W.Dodge, III

    As and architect who was born in Asheville in 1928, and who had his own office for the practice of architecture for thirty years,I also serve on the advisory council of The Asheville Design Center.

    It is a distinct disappointment to me [and to AIAAsheville] to learn that the Chamber of Commerce and the County Commissioners do not understand the major failure of DOT Alt. 3 to separate local traffic fromhighway traffic.

  6. Jeff Fobes

    JBo: Share links are on our to-do list. Thanks for pointing out the need for the option.

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