Asheville Daily Planet
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The Daily Planet's Opinion: October 2019
Wednesday, 02 October 2019 22:23

In, arguably, one of the worst moves in the vaunted history of the so-called “Paris of the South,” Asheville City Council voted unanimously Sept. 10 to pay $973,556 for a “road diet” project on Charlotte Street that includes reducing motor vehicle lanes from four to three.

 The road-narrowing will occur between Edwin and Chestnut streets. Bike lanes and “spot sidewalk safety improvements” will also be added, a city spokeswoman said in a release after the vote.

The bike lanes and sidewalk work may sound simply glorious to those who are blessed with time and resources to travel around North Asheville by foot or bicycle.

However, for the rest of us working stiffs — as well as tourists visiting the Omni Grove Park Inn, which connects with the outside world via Charlotte Street — this is an act of shameless political expediency on the part of a self-seving council and city staff that lacks the will to do the right thing.

As it is now, driving down Charlotte Street any day, even with four lanes, is a tough proposition because of the heavy traffic AND the tendency for delivery vehicles to park in one lane. The resulting traffic bottleneck, where Charlotte Street temporarily becomes three lanes, is ALWAYS nightmarish.

Beyond our concern for working locals, we feel compelled to reiterate that, in Asheville, at least through its modern history, the two top tourist attractions have been the Biltmore House and the Omni Grove Park Inn.

While access to the Biltmore House, America’s largest home, through often-traffic-clogged  Biltmore Village can be a challenge, at least there is a four-lane Biltmore Avenue to connect tourists and locals driving to this popular world-class destination. And that is how they arrive — by DRIVING motor vehicles. (The house was first opened to the public in 1930.)

In the case of the Omni Grove Park Inn, its guests from afar tend to follow I-240 to the Charlotte Street exit, then drive north the presently four-lane Charlotte Street, turn right on Macon Avenue and drive up the steep and winding hill to Asheville’s grand ol’ inn, which began operations in 1913.

As with the Biltmore House, it would be safe to say that few if any guests travel there by any other means than motor vehicle.

Also, given the steepness of Macon Avenue, we doubt there ever will be many tourists or locals bicycling or walking to the Omni Grove Park Inn, even with world-class bicycle lanes and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks

It’s sad that Asheville, which touts its diversity, has a council that, at least in this case, lacks even one member with the courage to question and challenge — as the late Marvin Gaye once sang — “What’s Going On?”



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