I-26 Forum TonightBy
The Asheville Design Center, the Burton Street Neighborhood Association, and the Western North Carolina Alliance will be hosting an information forum to discuss the timeline, next steps, and potential impacts of the I-26 Project. This forum is free and open to the public.
Monday, March 9, 5:30 p.m. (Neighborhood tour); 6:30 (Forum)
St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist
170 Fayetteville St
Asheville, NC 28806
ASHEVILLE, NC – The N.C. Department of Transportation is considering four alternates for a segment of I-26 meant to connect Interstate 240 in West Asheville with U.S. 19/23 on the east side of the river. The Smoky Park Bridge currently makes that connection, but the mixing of local and interstate traffic has earned the interchange the nickname “Malfunction Junction.” DOT plans to pick a route by next year and start building by 2013.
Officials, activists, residents and business owners are split over where the road should run. Last year the City Council voted 6-1 to endorse Alternative 4B, a design that separates all local and interstate traffic across the bridge. More recently, the Buncombe County Commission voted 3-2 to endorse Alternative 3, a design that removes I-26 traffic from the bridge, but continues to allow I-240 and local traffic to mix.
No matter what alternative is eventually chosen, there will likely be impacts to neighborhoods in West Asheville, Emma, Montford and Hill St.
While many neighborhoods will feel the impact of this massive construction project, one of the hardest hit areas could be a West Asheville neighborhood–the Burton Street Neighborhood–still scarred from interstate construction decades ago.
Residents of the Burton Street neighborhood recall how highway construction ripped their neighborhood apart in the 1960s. But recently the community has taken great strides in reclaiming and repairing their neighborhood.
The revitalization has been aided by additional federal tax dollars. Over the last three years, the community has received $525,000 through the Department of Justice’s Weed and Seed program, which targets “weeds” such as crime and then “seeds” the community with resources. The money has paid for everything from police overtime to financial planning and disease-prevention programs. Efforts to cut crime and raise neighborhood morale got help recently when a combination of city, state and federal funds made possible the $215,000 renovation of the Burton Street community center.
In addition, under Alternatives 2, 3, and 4, nearly 30 homes in an Emma mobile home park will be completely eliminated.