Building the long-debated Interstate 26 Connector through Asheville would not only save lives on the crash-prone Bowen Bridge, but boost the economic health of the region, local leaders argued Thursday.Read the full article
About 125 elected officials, business and civic leaders gathered today at the North Carolina Arboretum for a briefing on prospects for the project under a new statewide transportation plan championed by Gov. Pat McCrory.
The Asheville connector was originally slated to have opened in 2004 with the section of I-26 in Madison County paved from Mars Hill north to Sam’s Gap, but “we have yet to crank up the first bulldozer,” said David Brown, the regional member of the state Board of Transportation. “We’ve had problems getting on the same page in the past.”
... Meanwhile, an ad hoc working group has started meeting to reach some community agreement on the project. The group includes City Council members Jan Davis and Marc Hunt, Buncombe Commissioners Joe Belcher, Holly Jones and Brownie Newman, former Asheville mayor Louis Bissette and Julie Mayfield, co-director of WNC Alliance.
Mayfield was optimistic the community can find consensus when DOT offers public workshops on possible alternatives in the spring of 2014. “Everybody seems to think that the project has a better chance of getting funded now,” she said.
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