Archive for I-26 Connector


I-26 Questions Remain

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From the AC-T today:

Construction of a new I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange on the southwestern side of the city would begin in fiscal year 2021 and run through FY 2024, according to the proposed long-range plan released by the state Department of Transportation earlier this month.

Work on a new crossing of the French Broad River would start in FY 2024 and continue beyond FY 2025.

The plan shows no funding over the next 11 years for the third component of the I-26 Connector, a proposed widening of Interstate 240 through West Asheville.

Heads up, Asheville City Council. Don’t fall for this:

A project’s benefit/cost can be improved if funding is provided during the project submission phase through local entity contributions or tolling approved by the local planning organization. In addition, a bonus allocation of up to 50% will be returned to the contributing area for a subsequent project scored through STI.

Rep. Nathan Ramsey was out promoting a local sales tax earlier this year:

“State Rep. Nathan Ramsey, R-Farview, interjected, “On the local component, the community has the possibility to put local dollars into these projects. . . . For instance, Buncombe County has the authority to enact sales tax to raise the score. What we’re told from Raleigh is this will score pretty well, but we won’t know ‘til the scores are released.”

Just so’s you know.


About Those Toll Lanes

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About Thom’s Tholl Road I wrote about yesterday,

Tillis expects to fund highway projects all across North Carolina using tolls. WSOC-Charlotte reported this summer that a round trip from Mooresville to Charlotte on Tillis’ I-77 HOT lanes could cost commuters $20 every weekday.

People in the Charlotte area — especially those struggling with low-paying jobs — are asking about the cost to use Spain-based Cintra’s toll lanes.

“Who knows?”

That’s how the man in charge of proposed Interstate 77 toll lanes responded to a town commissioner’s question about whether tolls could max out in another 20 years at more than $40 round trip.


“There is no one I have spoken to that believes an eleven dollar trip is reasonable in any way,” said Cornelius Town Commissioner John Bradford. “These numbers have really set off a lot of alarms and bells.”

Asheville has an interstate highway expansion project in the works, too. What would you be willing to pay? What would state Reps. Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey consider reasonable for you to pay?


I-26 Connector: Next Steps

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The following guest post courtesy of Joe Minicozzi.

Over the next several weeks, there will be votes at the City, the County and the MPO to endorse Alternative 3 for the purposes of prioritization of funding. This is key for several reasons. For one, our State is setting up a scoring system that weighs “cost” at a greater amount than anything else. As a taxpayer, I do admire being fiscally prudent, but as a resident of Buncombe and Asheville, it gives me pause. Primarily because this is a Federal project, of which, the majority of funds will come from the Federal Government. As such, the Feds have certain laws in place to protect us from how their projects impact our community, and they don’t just weigh the cost of concrete in their projects. This deal with NCDOT may end up to be a Faustian way to get us to subjugate our Federal rights to have the project that best fits our community.

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Categories : I-26 Connector, Local
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ADC – Burton St. Task Force

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adcflyer1Via Ashvegas:

The Asheville Design Center, the city’s non-profit community-based urban design agency, has launched a monthly series of presentations/discussions dealing with community and the built environment.

This month’s event (Neighborhood Planning: Burton Street + Holding Ground) will highlight the recent community planning work of the ADC’s Burton Street Task Force and feature the documentary film Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street.

The ADC is proud to be working with the Burton Street Neighborhood on a Small Area Plan that will foster community resiliency, empowerment, and sustainable development. Representatives from the Task Force will report on its ongoing planning process, including the outcomes of its recent community workshop.

The film Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street tells the story of a racially mixed neighborhood in South Boston, tired of failed government programs, which worked together to rebuild their neighborhood.

Categories : I-26 Connector, Local
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Pic lifted from Jason Sandford

Pic lifted from Jason Sandford

With all these Top Ten lists floating around the internets, I thought I’d toss another reflective log on the fire.  Add your own top stories in the comments, and you get bonus points if you put together a Top Ten Local Political Stories of the Decade.

Buncombe County Commissioners and Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce come out in support of I-26 Alternative 3. After the strong design work from the Asheville Design Center and unanimous support from the City Council, it looked like our community might move the mighty DOT to create something that actually works for Asheville.  When the CoC and 3 of 5 County Commissioners swung in the direction of Alternative 3, further delay was guaranteed.

See the rest in ReadMoreLand…    Read More→

efcaI’m in favor of expanding organized labor’s ability to fight for higher wages, workplace safety, and family-friendly benefits. The Asheville Chamber of Commerce? Not so much.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has new website dedicated to legislative action. It’s a good looking site, and progressives could really use something similar. You can experience Act For Asheville‘s user-friendly utility at their top legislative agenda item:

“The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a.k.a. “Card Check” poses a huge threat for business.”

For years the US Chamber of Commerce has been hammering Heath Shuler for his support of EFCA. They’ve put millions of dollars into fighting against this legislation. The Chamber is known for spending more money than any other lobbying organization on a yearly basis.  On the other side of the coin, the AFL-CIO has been pouring millions into seeing EFCA pass. Stewart Acuff at Huffington Post writes:

The Labor Movement is determined to pass the Employee Free Choice Act to restore the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively, to end 30 years of stagnant and declining wages, to strengthen and deepen the middle class and to end the corporate assault on workers when they try to form unions.

Corporations and their right wing allies want to preserve an increasingly untenable status quo: union busting, rampant retaliation against workers trying to organize, the greatest inequity in the U.S. since 1929, a declining and shrinking middle class, an economic crisis created in part by a severe lack of consumer demand, growing poverty, and a severe health care crisis

Open Secrets:

Business PACs not only gave nearly five times more in campaign contributions than labor PACs did in the last election cycle ($365.1 million versus $77.9 million, including contributions to leadership PACs) they are backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $144.4 million on lobbying efforts in the 2007-2008 election cycle, or more than $400,000 for every day Congress was in session.

Given all the blowback from the Asheville Chamber’s endorsement of I-26 Connector Alternative 3, it’s somewhat surprising to see them putting their public face on this issue. Chamber members who pay their dues are subsidizing the fight against workers’ rights whether they like it or not.

To contact your legislators in support of EFCA copy and paste these emails:, (Shuler’s office)

Senator Burr doesn’t have a direct email addy listed, so use his contact form instead.

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I-26 Schedule Update

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600px-i-26svgAshvegas posted the I-26 Schedule:

Jun 2009 Concurrence point meeting to solidify Alternate 4B as a viable alternate and to bring it up to the same level of review as the other alternates.

Aug 2009 The supplemental draft environmental impact statement including Alternate 4B should be completed and released for public review and comment.

Sep 2009 The corridor public hearing meeting should be held to discuss the supplemental draft environmental impact statement.

Oct 2009 The post public hearing meeting should be held.

Dec 2009 Concurrence point meetings to select the preferred alternate and to optimize the design and benefits of the project while reducing the environmental impacts should be held.

Oct 2010 The record of decision (ROD) and the design public hearing should occur.

FY 2011 Right-of-way acquisition should begin.

FY 2013 Construction should begin.

Categories : I-26 Connector, Local
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Communities Coming Together

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steadfast-completeI just got back from the I-26 Forum at St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Burton Street Community.  What an amazing collection of people.  I’m going to give you the thumbnail sketch here, but Mountain X and WLOS covered it as well.  Those links will be in the comments as they arrive.

Miss Vivian led the walking tour.  She had stories about every home and person on Fayetteville St., and we all got to see the families who would be displaced if the I-26 Connector cuts through this neighborhood, a neighborhood that fell down and got back up.  About a hundred people from every walk of life took the tour.

At 6:30 the church pews filled, and Dewayne Barton introduced the program.  Joe Minicozzi of the Asheville Design Center ran through the facts and, once again, plainly demonstrated that Alternative 4B’s design is superior in every way.  Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Alt. 4B uses less land, takes fewer homes, takes fewer businesses, connects west Asheville to downtown, separates local traffic from interstate traffic, and creates a 22 acre downtown development corridor in downtown Asheville.

The questions from forum-goers fell generally into one of two categories:  process or action.  Minicozzi and (Person Who’s Name I Ought To Remember) from the Southern Poverty Law Center fielded the questions very well.  Former Mayor Leni Sitnick spoke from the pews about the history of the project and about how to work to make change.  Reverend Hardaway, an undeclared candidate for City Council, got his question about effective action answered.  Another speaker announced a petition drive to have Buncombe County Commissioners vote again on the I-26 Connector.

Chairman David Gantt continued the Q&A session, urging attendees to focus on the Governor’s office and on whomever she appoints to the DOT Board. He was followed by Mayor Bellamy.  I missed the last part because I was out front talking to folks.

What’s next?  A multi-pronged strategy to influence the DOT.  At a community level, we need to continue to shine a light on Burton St. Community and on Asheville’s intention to be an alternative transportation friendly city.  At an petition level we can get our names on the lists to support 4B and to ask the County for a revote.  At an organizational level, we can contact the Governor, DOT, and Alt. 3-friendly County Commissioners, and we can plan to attend this summer’s DOT public comment sessions en masse.  At an individual level, we can tell our friends and families about what’s going on and what they can do.


I-26 Forum Tonight

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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
(828) 258-9645


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Categories : I-26 Connector
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I-26: Remixed

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Charles Elmer of Wu Media created this condensed version of the Jan. 6, 2009 County Commission meeting during which the I-26 Connector alternatives were debated and public comment was heard.


This Monday, March 9th, at 5:30pm there will be a tour and informational forum to update the public on where we are in the process.  You can check out the details of that forum here.  Please come out to support Burton St. neighborhood and to let the decision makers know that Asheville wants a connector that uses less land, takes fewer homes, takes fewer businesses, links west Asheville to downtown, separates local from interstate traffic, and creates a 22 acre downtown development district that complies with Asheville’s 2025 Plan.

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