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City of Asheville Neighborhood Traffic Calming Projects

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Following a revision to the City’s traffic calming policy and approval by Asheville City Council, the City of Asheville Transportation Department has resumed projects designed to ease traffic speed on neighborhood roads.

Speeding and unnecessary through-traffic presents dangers that affect the quality of life in residential areas. In order to provide a safer environment, the City of Asheville seeks to provide traffic calming to neighborhoods that go through the process of requesting it.

A 2000 Traffic Calming Policy approved by City Council established a protocol for responding to requests from residents for traffic calming installations, but funding for such projects has been unavailable since 2007. With $100,000 funding approved in the 2013/2014 budget, the Transportation Department is able to once more address requests on hold since 2007.

“We have a backlog of traffic calming projects requested by residents that stretches back seven years or so, and those are going to be our first priority right now,” said Transportation Director Ken Putnam. “We appreciate the patience of these folks and are working closely with them to move projects forward.”

The department worked closely with the Public Safety Committee, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force sub-committee and the Asheville Police Department to develop next steps.

The new action plan and policy revisions shift focus to the use of speed humps, speed cushions or other lower-cost strategies. That move will stretch the funding budgeted for traffic calming by focusing on installation instead of design.

“Speed humps are really the most economical kind of device to slow traffic, and they are easier on vehicles,” Putnam said. “Bicyclists also seem to prefer them to other speed reduction devices.”

Staff is currently analyzing the top seven locations on the waiting list to determine those that meet the criteria for traffic calming, including a certain threshold of traffic volume and an identified speeding problem.

“We work closely with the neighborhoods on these,” Putnam says. “Especially since there is the possibility that interest in traffic calming may have declined over time.”

The revised Traffic Calming Policy also includes changes that make it easier for neighborhoods to initiate the consideration of speed humps, allows for the combination of public-private funding and ensures safe access for emergency vehicles.

Additionally, the city plans a public outreach campaign designed to increase awareness of speeding and other dangerous driving habits.

“We really want the community to gather around the cause that safer driving is better for individuals, for neighborhoods and for the city as a whole,” Putnam said.

Updates on individual traffic calming projects will be posted to the City’s Projects Page at ashevillenc.gov/projects.

The entire list of locations that are under consideration or being evaluated for traffic calming can be found at http://ow.ly/xpkyq.

Rumbough Place Designated One-way Starting May 8

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Beginning May 8, 2013, the City of Asheville Transportation Department will implement a one-way traffic pattern for Rumbough Place between Sulpher Springs Road and Harris Street on the west side of Malvern Hills Park.

The designation of Rumbough as a one-way street is a yearly occurrence and accounts for increased traffic pressure near the Malvern Hills pool. This year, direction of travel will be reversed, flowing from Sulpher Springs Road to Harris Street.

The change comes out of neighborhood discussions about cut-through traffic on Rumbough, as well as to make access to the pool more convenient for visitors.

The one-way designation will remain in place through at least the closing of pool season, but city staff continues to discuss with the neighborhood the possibility of permanent one-way status for Rumbough Place.

For more information, contact City Traffic Engineer Jeff Moore at (828) 232-4586.

Retaining Wall Project to Affect Traffic at Cherokee Rd and Sunset Dr

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – An upcoming project to replace a deteriorating retaining wall near the intersection of Cherokee Road and Sunset Drive will result in diverted traffic during the several months the project will take to complete.

Work on the retaining wall is anticipated to begin in mid-February and last through July. Analyses of the wall performed in 2009 and 2012 resulted in recommendations that the structure be replaced. Work associated with the project will include utility relocations, storm drainage improvements, paving, and other associated items. Because of the historical nature of the surrounding Albemarle neighborhood, the project will involve not only replacing the wall, but also restoring it to its original look. This will be accomplished by using existing stones in the wall’s façade, a step approved by the city’s Historic Resources Commission. Asheville City Council approved the project in January.

Due to the nature of the project, the intersection at Cherokee Road and Sunset Drive will be closed for the duration of the replacement. Because the intersection is an access to Charlotte Street for neighborhood traffic, the City of Asheville will place road closed signs at the last turnout on each road in order to give drivers notice to detour. Affected roads will include Sunset Dr., Ridgewood Pl., Woodland Rd., Skyview Pl., Canterbury Rd., Fairmont Rd. and other streets feeding into Sunset Dr. and Cherokee Rd.

Residents in the area will receive project status updates through the city’s Citizen Alert System. Residents can register phone numbers and email addresses with the alert system by logging onto www.ashevillenc.gov and clicking the link for Citizens Alert Sign Up, or by calling the city’s customer service information line at (828) 251-1122 or United Way’s 2-1-1 information line. Project information will also be posted at www.ashevillenc.gov on the City Projects link.

LED Street Lights Ramp Up in West Asheville

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Beginning Monday, Nov. 21, the city will move into Phase II of a streetlight upgrade program in which traditional bulbs will be upgraded to LED bulbs.  Retrofits will take place Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. with no expectations of traffic disruption.

In spring of last year, the City of Asheville successfully installed 700 lights in River District and Kenilworth neighborhoods in Phase I of the street light upgrade project.  Phase II has a broader reach and will involve 2800 streetlights across West Asheville, Kenilworth and Oakley.  Once completed all four phases are expected to save $650,000 annually and 2628 tons of avoided carbon which is equal to the amount of carbon absorbed from 60,000 trees.

Phase I of the four year initiative began in May 2011 and has generated $32,000 in actual savings. City Council’s approval of the Green Capital Improvement Plan rounds out the triple bottom line impact of the project.  The plan, adopted in the 2011-2012 budget commits all dollar savings from municipal energy efficiency projects to future energy efficiency projects

The City of Asheville is the first in the nation to implement this innovative financial model where all the energy savings pay for the streetlight investment. The lighting upgrades build further upon the successful lighting ordinance passed in 2008 which ensures all municipal streetlights adhere to “Dark Sky” standards.

For more information about these upgrades please visit the frequently asked questions page at www.ashevillenc.gov/green or contact Maggie Ullman at 828.271.6141 or [email protected].