Let’s take a reality check and not make things worse

A recent letter writer shared some alarming statistics about the number of traffic accidents on North Charlotte Street [“Why Spend Money on a Traffic Study,” Aug. 1 Xpress].

It would appear that Charlotte Street is more dangerous than the traffic-snarled Merrimon Avenue. The writer’s solution was to make Charlotte Street a two-lane roadway. Neither the facts nor the proposed solution seemed quite sound to me, so I did, with the help of the city, a bit of digging.

As the writer stated, N. Charlotte Street to Macon Avenue is about a half a mile in length. As I looked at the accident statistics, only 30 percent took place in the segment the writer wants to convert from four lanes to two. Seems like the data would indicate that the problem isn’t with that tiny stretch but, in fact, lies with the other two areas. Interesting! Perhaps converting the current two-lane section to four lanes might be appropriate?

If you look at accident statistics for some of the streets adjoining Charlotte Street, you see that accident rates are as high as or higher than this four-lane segment in question. So the writer’s proposal is to make Charlotte Street more difficult for drivers and force them onto side streets that already have a high accident rate. I don’t see the advantage in that, but maybe some do.

Second, since Charlotte Street was converted to a four-lane roadway in the 1960s, there has been only one accident involving a car and pedestrian. While I do feel sorry for that single pedestrian, I don’t believe that justifies taking something that is working and breaking it.

Charlotte Street needs lots of things: repaving, painted crosswalks, sidewalks without telephone poles, etc. But it doesn’t need to throttle traffic and flood adjoining neighborhoods with more automobiles. At the public hearing held on this matter, most business owners objected strongly to the proposed change to Charlotte Street — a business corridor cemented on one end with a very large hotel, golf course and spa, and on the other by an interstate highway. Let’s take a reality check here and not make things worse.

— Max Alexander
Asheville

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