Transportation projects roll into City Council

KEEPING ASHEVILLE MOVING: City Council will take up several transit-related proposals at its Jan. 23 meeting, including the southern section of the RADTIP, renovations to the ART station and a feasibility study for bike access on some downtown streets. Photo by Carolyn Morrisroe
KEEPING ASHEVILLE MOVING: City Council will take up several transit-related proposals at its Jan. 23 meeting, including the southern section of the RADTIP, renovations to the ART station and a feasibility study for bike access on some downtown streets. Photo by Carolyn Morrisroe

ASHEVILLE — Pedestrian and bike projects in the River Arts District are back on the table, the result of an influx of cash from the county’s tourism board that could move the projects forward after the Asheville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The city of Asheville is slated to formally accept an investment of $4.6 million from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to help complete the southern section of the the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project.

The city and the BCTDA initially announced the funding last October, and at its Jan. 23 meeting, Asheville City Council will consider accepting the grant and adjusting the city’s budget accordingly. The $4.6 million will go toward elements of the major infrastructure project in the RAD that were eliminated after construction costs came in more 50 percent higher than initial cost estimates last summer.

Council will also vote on amending its contract with Beverly Grant/Barnhill, the project’s construction manager, to include improvements to Lyman Street such as pedestrian and bicycle access that were delayed as a result of the cost overrun.

Public hearings

Council will hold a public hearing to consider the conditional zoning of 153 Smokey Park Highway for the renovation and expansion of an Ingles-anchored multi-tenant commercial development.

A 112-room hotel project at 390 Airport Road will come before City Council for conditional zoning from highway business to lodging expansion. The parcel includes an existing Olive Garden restaurant and as part of the rezoning, that property would be split off.

Council will hear a proposal to rezone 655 Brevard Road, changing a tract with a dental office from conditional use office to office zoning and an undeveloped wooded tract to residential.

A hearing is scheduled for a rezoning of an undeveloped parcel on an unnamed alley on Howard Street (technically with the address of 99999 Deaver St.) from residential to Haywood Road traditional. The applicant wants to include the parcel in an already-approved mixed-use project at Beacham’s Curve.

The owners of 1093 Tunnel Place and 3 Oteen Park Place are slated to get a public hearing at City Council for their request to rezone the properties from highway business and residential to highway business conditional zone. The applicants are seeking more area for the auto service center they operate on the site.

Consent agenda

Leah Chiles, the first woman mayor in North Carolina and a founder of the town of Kenilworth before its annexation by Asheville, could get further recognition. An item on City Council’s consent agenda proposes renaming Lakewood Park to Leah Chiles Park and erecting a historical plaque in her honor. The proposal states that Leah Chiles and her husband, James, developed Kenilworth in the 1920s and that she was an independent businesswoman who also served as an advocate for civil rights and the arts.

The consent agenda for Council’s Jan. 23 meeting includes several transit-related proposals including:

  • A budget amendment of $196,648 to receive grant funds for projects helping low-income residents get to and from jobs, including Sunday service on Asheville Redefines Transit, ART route 170 to Black Mountain and administrative costs of the program.
  • A budget amendment for a $40,000 match to a $160,000 federal grant to undertake a study of the feasibility of bicycle facilities on Biltmore Avenue, Broadway and McDowell Street.
  • Authorization of a match of $35,000 for a $175,000 grant for updating the city’s pedestrian plan and Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan.
  • Authorization of a match of $7,500 for a $75,000 grant that helps fund the city’s transit planning manager position.

A long-awaited renovation of the ART station could get off the ground if Council approves a $188,000 contract with Greensboro-based Clark Patterson Lee to provide design services for the project. Last March, Council directed staff to proceed with a design to improve the downtown transit center, as was recommended in the 2009 transit master plan.

Council will consider a resolution to change the bylaws of the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee to expand its list of purposes and duties and change its name by adding “Asheville-Buncombe” to reflect that it is a joint project of the city and county.

Presentations and reports

Council will get an update on the Interstate 26 Connector, a project years in the making that will ultimately connect I-26 in southwest Asheville to U.S. Highway 19/23/70 in northwest Asheville. (See ”Despite progress, concerns about the I-26 Connector persist,” Xpress, May 26, 2017.)

New business

Council will hear a status report on the N.C. Department of Transportation’s planning for improvements to Merrimon Avenue.

Public comment

Council will hear comment from members of the public on items not previously discussed on Council’s agenda.

Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

For more of the latest city and county news, check out Xpress’ Buncombe Beat.

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About Carolyn Morrisroe
Carolyn Morrisroe served as news editor and reporter at Mountain Xpress. Follow me @CarolynMorrisro

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