Why some Montford residents oppose their neighborhood’s position on the I-26 Connector

Not all of Montford shares the "no acceptable alternatives" that the Montford Neighborhood Association has adopted in regard to choosing among the alternate routes of the I-26 Connector. Many Montford residents who have followed the I-26 Connector saga through the last decade are distressed that Alternate 4B, designed by the Asheville community and adopted by the Asheville City Council, has come under special attack by Montford's I-26 committee.

True, several design aspects of Alternate 4B were radically changed by NCDOT. These need to be reversed and, I believe, can be reversed, through strong public outcry. But for the Montford committee to negate 4B is to turn its back on a route that has been deemed the least invasive to the larger Asheville community.

Let's say it like it is: "no acceptable alternative" is Montford's code for "not on my side of the river." More importantly, the Montford Neighborhood Association's approval of the "none-of-the-above" approach is potentially devastating. Politically, it muddies the water, creates confusion and gives DOT an easy excuse to choose Alternate 3, which they and the Chamber have wanted all along (bigger, better, faster, more concrete).

Looking at Asheville — The Big Picture — Alternate 4B's route solves a huge safety problem: It separates local and interstate traffic on the Smokey Park Bridge. It also is the smallest footprint, taking the least amount of land. Its route on the Montford side of the river would follow the already-existing four-lane highway, 19/23.

Montford calls the I-26 Connector, especially 4B, a "major threat to life in Montford." Honestly, many of us who live in the "affected area" just don't buy that. Of course there are noise and air-pollution issues to be dealt with, and who wants more highways anyway?  But in the great scheme of things, considering that we live in a city where the Smokey Park Bridge is unsafe and where the Connector will eventually be built, I see 4B's impact on the Montford neighborhood as tolerable. Four-lane highways already exist on the two boundaries that 4B would impact. 

I just don't buy into Montford's fear-laden cry that 4B will destroy our neighborhood. Let's challenge Montford to think beyond their own back yard, to look at the city as a whole and reconsider their Montford-centered position.

— Carol Stangler
Asheville

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17 thoughts on “Why some Montford residents oppose their neighborhood’s position on the I-26 Connector

  1. michael mcdonough

    Interesting,
    Carol takes Montford to task for not being a “team player” by blindly supporting Alt 4b,
    by throwing her Montford teamates under the bus.
    The ADC has qualified it’s support of Alt 4b, with the hope the significant problems can be fixed. The Montford neighborhood came together, with the exception of Carol, to say, fix the alternates first, then we can select the best.

    Seems like Carol is just another person who has little tolerance for dissent.

  2. Jacq

    “But in the great scheme of things, considering that we live in a city”

    Exactly! We live in a city.. You chose to live within city limits so you sometimes have to deal with things as a city! I wasn’t to thrilled when a bunch of cookie cutter “eco-homes” were built behind my wooded home but I chose to live in the city.. The good times were bound to end… I adapted and tried to find the good. At least they were “eco-homes” its all how you look at it. Hey Montford think about the Burton st. community in West Asheville! Oh wait why would you those folks don’t have the fancy hummingbird Montford flags so they don’t matter! Get over yourselves for the love of God!

  3. Dave

    [b]Seems like Carol is just another person who has little tolerance for dissent. [/b]

    Actually, by definition, you appear to be the one with a problem with dissent.

  4. travelah

    Does the small gentrified community of Montford activists drive the decision process and input for all of Montford, Mikey McDonut?

  5. Asheville Native

    You mean RE-gentrified, right travelah? Montford was not estblished as a haven for crime and houses of ill repute, as it was known for in the 70’s, 80’s and the better part of the 90’s. You’re a bit snarky aren’t you?

  6. Mitchxout

    We need less roads, not more. Paving historic neighborhoods so traffic can move through uninpeded is a travesty. We could learn alot from cities such Portland that had the audacity to turn down federal highway funds.

  7. Piffy!

    [b]Paving historic neighborhoods so traffic can move through uninpeded is a travesty.[/b]

    Which plan actually wants to ‘pave montford’?

  8. travelah

    I think Montford should be seized via eminent domain to make way for a new generation of public housing and let the NIMBYs carve out a new world order somewhere else.

  9. Piffy!

    [b]I think Montford should be seized via eminent domain to make way for a new generation of public housing and let the NIMBYs carve out a new world order somewhere else. [/b]

    You mean like how Stumptown was razed for a park?

  10. travelah

    Do you have any idea how much business traffic a park generates for a crack and ho franchise? I’m asking mind you thinking you might know? Now this is related to the letter in that a public housing project in Montford would be almost as good as if not better than a park and we wouldn’t have to worry about interstate traffic at all.

  11. laelgray

    Carol’s letter says: “True, several design aspects of Alternate 4B were radically changed by NCDOT. These need to be reversed and, I believe, can be reversed, through strong public outcry.”

    I give her credit for pointing this out. I think she’s concerned that Montford’s recent public outcry about the changes to 4B may undermine its consideration by the DOT. I personally think that now is exactly the right time for this public outcry, while the DOT is working on their studies. We are asking the DOT to fix the plan that they’ve changed.

    Montford is not saying that the I-26 should put the damage in other neighborhoods. We stand in complete solidarity with the Burton Street community and the Emma community in trying to ensure the least negative impacts to all of us from this project.

    But clearly, if Montford doesn’t stand up for itself, the rest of you don’t really seem to give a damn what happens on this side of the river. Or maybe you can learn what’s really happening and help us all work together?

  12. hal

    it’ll never get built considering the way roads are maintained here. this is basically a moot point, but i do agree that 4B is the best option (I have reviewed the plans), but the other one which so many are pushing for demolishes so much of the Burton St community. I think that’s wrong. I have a friend who lives off Burton St and she has a very nice house, and I hate to see it get trashed because some scumbags are afraid of something that doesn’t even affect them.

  13. laelgray

    8 homes are currently slated to be removed in Montford in the DOT’s version of Alternate 4B. (5 on Hill Street and 3 on Courtland Place).

    The DOT’s version of 4B includes a huge double deck highway (6 lanes of I-26 on top of 4 lanes of existing 19/23) that runs along the edge of Montford Hills from the Riverside Cemetary to the Pearson Bridge.

    Please don’t call us scumbags. We are just people who live here – many for 20+ years, some for generations. You could try to help us protect our neighborhood – as we would do for you.

  14. hal

    If you heard some of the comments I have, you’d have thought of some people as scumbags also. I’m not saying you were one of them but I have talked to people about this who live in the montford area and a response I got was “why risk tearing down beautiful historic houses when you could do so in the ghetto instead?”

    if that’s not a horrible thing to say I don’t know what is. maybe there should be a new alternative where no houses are torn down instead. this all seems to be pitting certain people against each other, and seeing it from the outside like I am, it just seems wrong. the plan that demolishes the LEAST homes/businesses should be the plan that is used, regardless of where the houses are.

  15. laelgray

    Regarding Halcyon’s friend(?) who refers to building the highway in “the ghetto,” that is truly hateful. I wonder if that person has ventured around Montford to see the diversity of people and economic situations that will be impacted by 4B. Oddly enough, since I’ve gotten into this debate, I’ve been called everything from a NIMBY to a Montford “crack ho” – which I guess speaks to that diversity?

    Anyway, I would like to make it clear that the Montford neighborhood association does not endorse Alternates 2, 3, or 4 either.

    We’ve taken slack from ALL camps for saying that each of the plans, in their current state, fail to meet Asheville’s agreed upon community goals.

    Pitting people against each other is bad for all of us, and we need to stop feeding into this kind of counterproductive name calling and divisiveness. Instead we need to work together to put pressure on the DOT to fix the plans, including 4B, before they choose any of them.

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