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