This is in response to the article on “Merrimon madness” in the April 22 edition of the Xpress [“Merrimon Madness: Addressing Safety Risks Along Asheville’s Major Roadways”]. I must admit, when I saw the headline for this article, I was happy that someone took the time to write about this major “elephant” in Asheville’s living room — the poor city planning that’s caused so much resulting traffic problems.
While the article’s focus was on “pedestrian safety,” it at least attempted to take a step at raising the issue. Yes, pedestrian safety is certainly an issue on Merrimon. But so is the safety of people driving their cars!
When I moved to Asheville just three years ago — before Trader Joe’s, before Harris Teeter — I thought Merrimon traffic was already on the brink of being reasonable for safety. But then comes not just one (Harris Teeter) but two (Trader Joe’s) large, commercial stores within the same area of space on an already maxed-out road that was not constructed to handle mega-commercial traffic.
My thought was, “Is there any city planning in Asheville?” and if so, what exactly is their definition of “planning” a workable and safe city? With the influx of new people moving here, and the tiny roads of the city that were not designed for this degree of commercial traffic of large stores — yet the “planner” apparently cares more about the commercial buck than any kind of safety for drivers and pedestrians.
As I watch so much of the lovely spaces in the town getting filled in by new, large buildings, and saying goodbye to the view of the sky, it is an easy math in my head to foresee the continuing increase in future traffic problems that will ensue. I can do that without having any kind of formal training in city planning.
So where is our supposed “expert” and have they been on terminal vacation for the past three years? As Asheville citizens care about going green, the environment and maintaining a small-town environment, it seems our city planners (do we have any?) have their priorities on the exact opposite of the spectrum. Simply put, their idea of green seems to be simply: money. Very sad.
— Gin Oman