ASHEVILLE – At its October 22 meeting, Asheville City Council unanimously approved a partnership with the NCDOT that will result in a major sidewalk expansion in South Asheville. The project, slated to begin in 2014, will see sidewalks installed on both sides of Hendersonville Road from I-40 to Long Shoals Road - adding walkability to a stretch of highway approximately 5.3 miles long.
“This is a huge project and a great addition to our sidewalk network,” said Greg Shuler, the city’s Streets and Engineering manager. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
The partnership includes a major federal funding match, with 80 percent of project funds provided by the Surface Transportation Program – Directly Attributable (STP-DA) through the NCDOT. The funds were allocated by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization which is charged with administering STP-DA funding at the regional level. The City of Asheville will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent of funding as well as administering and conducting the work on the sidewalk installation. The city’s $825,000 match is included in the city’s FY 2013/2014 capital improvement budget.
Hendersonville Road represents a large and growing section of South Asheville, as well as a gateway into Biltmore Village, and this project will enhance access and safety for people who walk along this corridor of residential areas, businesses, and retail and dining destinations.
Asheville City Council has prioritized pedestrian safety and infrastructure in its 2013/2014 strategic plan, and projects like the Hendersonville Road sidewalk project advance that goal.
Following Council’s approval, the agreement goes to Raleigh for final approval. Shuler says there is plenty to do before breaking ground next fall - local easements need to be established with adjacent property owners and historic properties need to be evaluated. Work will continue alongside the NCDOT to identify rights-of-way while the city will research and identify environmental considerations like flood zones and impact on wildlife.
Another important step in the planning stages, Shuler points out, is community participation, and the city will host community input meetings and invite feedback from the public on the project. Public input opportunities will be announced by press release and posted on the City of Asheville’s information outlets including ashevillenc.gov, twitter.com/cityofasheville and facebook.com/cityofasheville.