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Amid uproar, city responds with ‘Merrimon Avenue considerations’
Saturday, 26 November 2022 15:17

From Staff Reports

As a veritable firestorm of public anger continues to be vented toward city officials over the narrowing of a 1.5-mile stretch of Merrimon Avenue (from W.T. Weaver Boulevard to Midland Drive at Beaver Lake) from four to three lanes to allow for the addition of bicycle lanes on each side, the City of Asheville issued the following press release titled “Merrimon Avenue Considerations,” dated Nov. 10:

“Paving along Merrimon Avenue started Monday, November 7, and will continue until the “Road Diet” section is complete.  The forecasted rain on Thursday, November 10, and Friday, November 11, as well as, impending cold weather the following week will have an impact on the paving schedule. Paving cannot continue during rain events or when temperature fall below 35 degrees. 

 “This does not mean that paving operations will stop for the winter, but rather that the paving window will be shorter. The contractor has committed to completing the ‘road diet’ section this year. Curb ramp upgrades and signal loop/timing work will continue during this time frame.

 “Proposal Purpose: Improving safety and supporting equitable mobility for those traveling, living, working, and visiting Merrimon Avenue. A four-lane to three-lane conversion has been demonstrated to slow vehicle speeds and reduce crashes. 

“The city’s Comprehensive Plan has a vision to make streets more walkable, comfortable and connected. Similarly, NCDOT’s primary goal is to ‘Make Transportation Safer.’ Unfortunately, Asheville has a poor track record when it comes to street safety as it continues to be listed in the top 10 North Carolina cities with high levels of crashes (2020 data, page 140).

“Merrimon Avenue is a neighborhood connector and commuter route with a documented higher-than-normal crash rate that lacks adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Safety for all modes of transportation is a key factor for potential changes.

“At the City’s request, the two intersection projects that were proposed for Merrimon Avenue in 2018 were removed by the NCDOT. The projects as proposed would have widened Merrimon Avenue to five lanes by adding a continuous center turn lane from south of W.T. Weaver Boulevard to north of Edgewood Road. The projects were listed in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as U-5781 and U-5782.

“The NCDOT held a public input meeting on the proposed intersection projects in January 2018. While a few members of the public expressed support for the proposals, a large number of those who attended the meeting and submitted comments in writing were opposed to the large scale of the proposed changes, and were concerned about the safety impacts and the insufficient facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians. Following this input, the NCDOT and the City of Asheville determined to study other alternatives.

“As a result, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) assigned a consulting firm, AECOM, to conduct an “Express Design Study” of Merrimon Avenue to review the possibility of changing the configuration of the corridor to better support city and state goals. 

First woman named chief of staff for NC 11
Saturday, 26 November 2022 15:15

From Staff Reports

HENDERSONVILLE — U.S. Rep.-elect Chuck Edwards, R-Hendersonville, announced Nov. 14 that he has named Bronwyn Lance, a Leicester native and veteran U.S. House and Senate staffer, as his chief of staff for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district.

She will be the first woman in the history of NC-11 to be named chief of staff, Edwards said in a Nov. 14 press release.

A 1987 graduate of Erwin High School, she holds a B.A. from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and an MPA from Old Dominion University. “A seventh-generation native of Western North Carolina, Bronwyn has deep roots in and knowledge of the 11th District,” the release noted.

Edwards added, "My goal is to staff my offices with experienced personnel who have a love for or natural connection with this district, who will prioritize our constituents in everything we do, and who are focused on legislation that will improve the lives of WNC citizens. Bronwyn exhibits all these characteristics. I'm thrilled she is our team quarterback, and the people of our district will benefit from her deep skill set."

Lance started her career on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor , R-Brevard. She has served in the U.S. Senate as a senior staff member for, among others, U.S. Senators John Warner (R-Va.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and in Senate Republican leadership for U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. She also served as the Republican spokeswoman for the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

To that end, Lance stated in the release, “Asheville’s own Thomas Wolfe famously wrote, ‘You can’t go home again.’ I beg to differ.

“I am excited to come full circle in my career, back to where I started, and to help Congressman-elect Edwards – whose highest priority is constituent services – best serve the people of WNC who are so near and dear to my heart,” Lance emphasized.



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