The uglification of Kimberly

Kimberly used to be one of the most beautiful streets in Asheville—wide, with a clean, flowing venue offering prominent glimpses of orange foliage as the deciduous trees turned each fall. Quite in contrast to the disturbing shout of brightly striped warning signs and an obstacle course of over a dozen traffic islands with prominent, high curbs—many already marred by wheelmarks where drivers were unable to negotiate the annoying and difficult maze.

It started with sprayed, suture-like marks, ominously outlining the areas of Kimberly that were targeted for the project. Then came the heavy equipment, scoring and cutting the smooth pavement, then removing it in chunks so that the forms could be set to pour the concrete for the curbs. An article appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times in which a city official (something like assistant chief traffic safety engineer, I believe) explained that this was a traffic-calming project and quoted one resident of the Kimberly neighborhood to help bolster the need to slow traffic in the area. He also explained, as I recall, that upon completion of the project, perhaps the experience of driving Kimberly would become sufficiently unpleasant so that drivers would choose Merrimon instead. How helpful!

So here we have a city government with budget issues and many streets in need of repaving at this time. A pretty good example would be Wisteria Drive, just a couple blocks north of Kimberly, across Beaverdam. It is crumbling, with an uneven patchwork of repairs, mostly from water-line work already done. It needs to be completely repaved—something not done in many years. But while plans to repave such streets are delayed due to apparent budget issues, here we have our city government spending tax dollars to tear up Kimberly, then construct a maze of expensive, curbed islands and traffic barriers shouting at you with reflectors and striped warning signs. It’s only a matter of time before the iridescent yellow paint comes out to further warn drivers of the danger lurking within the maze that is now Kimberly. Oh how calming!

I wonder how quickly fire trucks can negotiate the maze? And I’m sure Fed-Ex/UPS trucks, buses, city street-washing trucks, moving trucks and trash trucks are especially calmed by this disturbing maze. A bad idea—and a poor use of the taxpayer dollar, in my humble opinion.

— Peter Krakowiak

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One thought on “The uglification of Kimberly

  1. The Wine Mule

    Residents on Kimberly didn’t like having a lot of traffic on their beautiful street. So the city did something about it. Obviously, their efforts were lacking on the aesthetic front. I wonder whether there have been any studies to indicate whether the strategy actually worked: Has traffic decreased on Kimberly?

    There may be a parable in here about how in Asheville even living in a fancy neighborhood doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere with the city; or maybe not.

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