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DOT’s I-26 Connector plan sparks mixed reply
Thursday, 03 January 2019 12:20

From Staff Reports

A public hearing on the proposed I-26 Connector project that would cross West Asheville prompted hours of comments from often-emotional speakers expressing a mixed bag of views — with a number in opposition (or at least requesting a delay), differing sharply with others saying it is much-needed, has been delayed by opponents for decades and needs to finally get the green light — on Dec. 4 at downtown’s Renaissance Asheville Hotel.

The hearing, hosted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, could constitute one of the project’s final steps toward construction. NCDOT has been considering the project since at least 1989. In the meantime, business groups, elected officials and others also have weighed in on the plan.

A standing-room-only crowd of between 400 and 500 participants attended. A drop-in session session was held earlier.

NCDOT is expecting crews to begin construction on the $950 million project in 2020. Federal funding will cover 80 percent of the cost, with the state paying the other 20 percent.

The project has been separated into three sections by planners as follows:

• Section C, the southernmost portion, would reconstruct the existing interchange where I-40 and I-26/I-240 intersect. New circular ramps would allow traffic to easily transition between highways. The plan also would widen I-40 from a point near the Smokey Park Highway interchange to the Brevard Road interchange.

• Section A, the middle part of the project, would widen I-26/I-240 from four to six lanes and establish a greater degree of separation between Amboy Road and the interstate. An upgraded Amboy Road interchange would include two roundabouts to the north and south, connected by a stretch of road that would run under the interstate. Extensions to the north and south would connect the Amboy Road roundabouts to Brevard Road. These extensions would run parallel to I-26/I-240.

• Section B, which would have the most impact on downtown Asheville and would establish Patton Avenue as a local boulevard rather than part of I-240 and future I-26.

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Efforts to boost affordable housing outlined
Thursday, 03 January 2019 12:17
By JOHN NORTH
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The Council of Independent Business Owners heard a panel presentation titled “Affordable Housing: Issues and Solutions” on Dec. 6 in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

Specifically, the panel was asked by CIBO to address: “What development issues hinder the affordable housing ... and what is the City of Asheville and Buncombe County planning to do to help?”

About 40 people attended.the early-morning breakfast meeting, including CIBO members, government officials and others.

Asheville Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler led the panel, which also included Buncombe County Commissioner Joe Belcher, Kirk Booth of Kirk Booth Real Estate and Bill Oglesby, a board member of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Wisler began the presentation by outlining “some of the tools the city is using to get more affordable housing in the city.”

Wisler noted, “When we talk to our citizens in surveys, the lack of affordable housing ranks at the top, or near the top, in concern

“The city gets involved with HUD. We have a land use incentive plan where we will forgive property taxes for a period of time, if the project meets certain criteria” pertaining to affordable housing.

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