I have lived on Cherokee Road for more than 20 years and access Charlotte Street several times each day. As the Asheville area continues to grow, I can’t help but notice an increase in Charlotte Street/Chestnut Street traffic, especially in the last five to seven years. It only makes sense that the traffic has dramatically increased because of tourism and a growing population in North Asheville, including Reynolds Mountain, Woodfin and Weaverville.
With the Fuddruckers and 101 Charlotte St. proposals combined, traffic usage will minimally increase by an additional 4,700 car trips each day or nearly 2 million additional trips per year.
Please consider the following points:
• It is critical that City Council looks at the most current traffic data on Charlotte Street before making any judgments. It is my understanding that data presented to Council by the developers was gathered during 2020, while we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both local travel and tourism-based travel were well below normal during that 12- to 15-month window. I am sure you would all agree the data provided does not represent the normal traffic reality today on the Charlotte Street/Chestnut Street intersections. The April-July 2021 data would be a more realistic representation of normal usage and would certainly reflect more realistically the problems caused when considering the additional traffic demands that would be incurred with the new development projects being considered.
• Adding these proposed projects will not only increase the traffic congestion, but the increased traffic will increase the discharge of polluting exhaust fumes affecting the neighborhoods close to Charlotte Street.
• Business growth to the Merrimon Avenue corridor continues to put increased traffic pressure on Kimberly Avenue and other neighborhood streets as drivers try to avoid Merrimon Avenue backups going in and out of North Asheville. The natural result of this is to only add more traffic onto Charlotte Street, further complicating an already overtraveled corridor.
• There are several businesses on the Charlotte Street/Chestnut Street corridor, including some new ones. If the traffic issue gets worse, potential customers for all of these businesses are going to avoid stopping on Charlotte Street to shop or, worse yet, avoid the area altogether. That is not good for those businesses that have invested in the area. Additionally, both new projects plan to add several new businesses. Increasing the traffic may sound like a good idea, but if it becomes more of a hassle to travel into the neighborhood, then all the business will have trouble being successful.
• The increased backup of cars due to increased traffic flow will force many drivers to use the adjacent neighborhood streets to avoid getting stuck in the traffic. Many of these streets are residential and narrow, creating a hazard to families and children in those areas. We already have issues with cars speeding through our neighborhoods, hence current signs everywhere asking motorists to slow down.
• As tourism continues to grow in the Asheville area, traffic has also increased due to the added facilities and activities at the Grove Park Inn. Charlotte Street is the main corridor to Macon Avenue and the Omni resort, which will increase traffic and places a lot of stress on Charlotte Street.
• Assuming both the 101 Charlotte St. and the Fuddruckers property will be simultaneously under construction for a two- to three-year period, imagine what problems will be incurred by the surrounding neighborhoods during this period.
I urge City Council to take the time to review its decisions before making a huge mistake that will affect our neighborhoods for years to come. We need Council’s help controlling the growth of our neighborhoods.
— Ann McMartin
Editor’s note: A traffic impact analysis for the project (avl.mx/abx) indicates that “COVID factor calculations” were made to adjust for reduced traffic because of the pandemic.