State of emergency

Asheville wants to end homelessness, right? That’s a noble cause, and I support the good intentions behind this effort. But if Asheville is ever going to achieve this lofty goal, we need to be honest about a few things first. 1) There’s a segment of Asheville’s homeless population that chooses it as a “lifestyle.” Take […]

Asheville City Council

Despite numerous alleged incidents of serious police misconduct over the past couple of years, Asheville City Council members voted Jan. 15 against creating an official citizen-oversight board. Conceding that it is a “bit of a complex topic,” police Chief William Hogan nonetheless lobbied against the idea, citing several existing layers of police oversight and reiterating […]

Asheville City Council

Despite a less-than-encouraging response by the state Department of Transportation, Asheville is continuing to explore a locally developed plan for the I-26 connector. The big idea: This map, prepared by city staff, illustrates just how large an incorporated Leicester would be. Representatives from the DOT, the Federal Highway Administration and several engineering consulting firms weighed […]

Six lanes or eight

In response to a request from the Asheville City Council last month, the state Department of Transportation has agreed to conduct one more traffic study — beginning immediately — to estimate future traffic volume along the I-26 Connector. “We are in the process of working on that,” confirmed DOT Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy. Calibration of […]

Eight too many? Six too few?

A pair of upcoming meetings may spark a flare-up in the long-simmering controversy over the planned restructuring of Interstate 240, Interstate 26 and the Smokey Park Bridge. Few local civic issues have aroused more heated debate. Area residents have banded together in support of one or another of several proposals; local politicians have staked out […]

I-26 by the numbers

The new leg of Interstate 26 through Madison County is the fruit of a massive undertaking. Consider these statistics: Length: nine miles Number of lanes: six Original cost estimate (1988): $50-$60 million* Final cost: $230 million Percent paid by the federal government: 80* Cost of welcome center/rest area $6.1 million Construction time: seven years Tons […]

Learning from I-26

[Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the February 1992 edition of Green Line, the monthly predecessor of Mountain Xpress.] If I-26 is any indication, highway boosters are far more organized than proponents of alternative transportation, who usually react too late. Starting in 1987, I-26 boosters in WNC had a two-year head start on opponents […]

Asheville City Council

Six voices, speaking in unison, can make quite a noise. But when Asheville City Council member Brian Peterson attempted to convince his colleagues to exercise their collective voice on the issue of the DOT’s eight-lane proposal for I-240 through West Asheville, he found not harmony, but discord. Council’s June 18 work session convened less than […]

DOT pushes an eight-lane 240 again

“I think what people are going to ask for is: ‘No eight lanes.’” — Betty Lawrence, member of I-26 Connector Awareness Group. Eight lanes or nothing. That’s the essence of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s recommendations for widening Interstate 240 through West Asheville, as part of the Interstate 26 Connector. But a grassroots community group […]

Asheville City Council

By next summer, Asheville bus riders will have a covered, heated and air-conditioned waiting area at the Coxe Avenue transit center. During their Nov. 9 work session, City Council members approved building a 540-square-foot waiting room, which will cost approximately $91,000. That’s about $10,000 less than an Oct. 3 estimate, Council members noted. “We never […]

Asheville City Council

“I’ve had a big smile on my face since I got my hands on this report,” revealed Mayor Leni Sitnik, beaming like a proud parent, at Council’s Sept. 12 formal session. The smile was the result of reading the much-anticipated Report of the Community Coordinating Committee for the Design of the I-26 Connector through Asheville. […]

Marching orders?

The people have spoken. And now that the I-26 Community Design Forum has come and gone, this question remains: What will the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration do with what they’ve heard? An estimated 450 folks filed through the doors of the Renaissance Hotel ballroom during the design forum, bounceing […]

Searching for consensus

It’s time to put up or shut up. The powers that be are coming to the table on the I-26 Connnector project, for what is likely the last chance for the community to end its hand-wringing over the controversial highway. The much-talked-about design forum is scheduled for July 21-22 at Asheville’s Renaissance Hotel; its aim […]

Asheville City Council

With the Interstate-26 Connector design forum looming on the near horizon, Asheville City Council took a last opportunity to thank those agencies that plan to participate, and to urge the N.C. Department of Transportation to consider all the possibilities emerging from the forum. At their July 11 meeting — a short and sweet one, with […]

Asheville City Council

Speedway foes and advocates alike were spilling out of the full-to-bursting chambers at the Asheville City Council’s last formal meeting of the millennium. But, faced with passionate public comments about the proposal, City Council decided not to rule, just yet, on a request that could lead to a new speedway complex being built on city-owned […]

Asheville City Council

Reorganizing the Grove Arcade’s financial structure — necessary to take advantage of new tax laws — touched off a lengthy battle during the Asheville City Council’s Dec. 14 work session. Aaron Zaretsky, executive director of the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation, told City Council that the foundation is in final negotiations with a corporation that […]

Committee keeps I-26 connector project rolling

The Transportation Advisory Committee voted unanimously to keep the I-26 connector project on schedule, but also asked the N.C. Department of Transportation to accept public comments while designing the highway. More than 50 people gathered at the TAC hearing, which is held every other year to help DOT prioritize its statewide road-improvement plans. Many in […]