Stop the Road Realignment in the RAD

So, we're just gonna say it. The road realignment project in the River Arts Distrct, aka RADTIP, should be stopped. 

Technically, it may be too late due to the construction drawings having gone beyond 70%.  The AARRC had the ability to modify these plans but did not.

The real question is WHY? Why did the AARRC not change the road realignment plans? Why does the City of Asheville and AARRC want the road realignment?

The original Wilma Dykeman plans (according to our review) do not call for a road realignment along the French Broad River.  It does call for pushing the road AWAY from the river.  Therefore, we wonder about the new push for this road realignment which will essentially put a road directly along the river and create an "island" out of the brownstone building and 12 Bones property.

Here are reasons why the Road Realignment, RADTIP should be stopped:

1) It will INCREASE traffic speed and flow - not slow it down.  

The reason so  many people have taken to using Riverside Drive is because it is a faster way to go from the south side of Asheville (Bilmore Village area) to the north side of Asheville (UNC-A area). I personally know that several who work at MAHEC and have need to get to UNCA, often take this road because it's faster. There are several at the hospital who do as well.  It is a faster shortcut since traffic through downtown has become so congested.  These are not people who are stopping to visit the artists - this is simply a shortcut.

It has been a shortcut that for the most part, comes to a slow down at the 12 Bones corner because there is a corner.  By straightening this out, it will increase the speed and amount of traffic.

2) It will improve and INCREASE TRUCK traffic

In the RADTIP plan itself, it states that congestion is not the reason for the road realignment.  They state specifically, it is to make traffic easier for TRUCKS.
"With relatively low traffic volumes, improving traffic flow is not a major need in the project area." (pg 4 of RADTIP)
Why we do need to make truck traffic easier?  For New Belgium.  The RADTIP plan was submitted in early January 2013 and states
"New Belgium Brewery purchased an 18 acre riverfront log on the west side.... a new facility that will employ an estimated 150 people by its full build out" (pg 9 of RADTIP)
In addition, New Belgium estimates 75 trucks per day traveling down Riverside Drive.  Between employees and truck deliveries alone, we will see an increase of at least 500 vehicles (truck and car) per day down Riverside Drive (going and coming).

Rather than increasing traffic, they should be slowing it down.

3) Roads increase flooding

Review any flood article and it will show you that increasing impervious (such as concrete) surfaces, increases flood flow.
But unless governments take steps to limit new development, it will undercut those other efforts, says Fox. New buildings and roads increase both the amount and speed of water heading into streams and rivers, he explains, making such development a major factor in determining the extent of future flood damage. Source: Mountain Xpress:
The RADTIP plan calls for putting in stormwater ditches and drainage that currently do not exist. We support this entirely but that does not mean they need to put a road there in order to put in flood mitigation.

4)  Other reasons do not support the road. The RADTIP developers conducted other studies which proved that there is no other reason to support a road realignment: (see pages 8 - 10 of RADTIP)

  • School Buses - The RADTIP plan says that school buses do not primarily use this route.
  • Airport Traffic - It does not impact traffic to or from the Airport.  It states "no special consideration is needed for this transportation mode."
  • Accident data - it states that accident data is not available but a concern primarily for "pedestrian facilities." - this means put in SIDEWALKS! not another road to increase traffic flow and speed.

The RADTIP plan itself can site no other reason for the road realignment other than the addition of New Belgium.

To access the RADTIP, click here (note: it's lengthy)

RADTIP other plans:
There are several plans in the RADTIP project that are supported and those are the original plans put forth by the Wilma Dykeman plan - plans that call for putting in sidewalks, increasing park space, greenways, outdoor ampitheatre and putting in flood mitigation such as drainage ditches.  However, the bulk of the plan and the cost are for the road realignment itself.  This is what is unnecessary.

Comment from the authors:
If it had not been for the impact on 12 Bones property and our direct interest, we would not have reviewed and studied these materials.  We are like many of you, busy being business owners, artists, parents or students and often don't have the time to keep up with every proposed change impacting our neighborhoods or business.  This has been a huge lesson in paying attention. We are pretty sure that the AARRC and City wishes we had stayed in the dark and apathetic.  It's time the citizens of Asheville pay attention to what its leaders and bureaucrats are putting forth.

Windshield Tours in the RAD

Windshield Tours
No, this is not some kind of new art installation in the River Arts District or the name of some new, funky garage band.  The Windshield Tours is how certain buildings in the RAD were selected for inspection which ultimately resulted in several artists losing their space back in 2014. It was coined "Windshield tours" by the AARRC when the ad hoc committee known as the 'Cleanup Crew' went on a tour of the River Arts District to pick out buildings they thought needed to be cleaned up.
"Sprague [Peter] and Ferikes [Joseph] went on a windshield tour of the RAD extended area with the goal of identifying buildings and properties that could benefit from improvements or increased use that would help to raise the value of the property." (from April 11, 2013 Minutes of the AARRC)
Artists Kicked Out
Almost a year ago, several artists were suddenly kicked out of the RAD which surprised many since the City is always touting its love of the arts.  Click here to read the Citizen-Times article about the this. So, we did the research and found the truth:

River Arts District Identified Properties for Relocation: Part 2

A majority of the $50 million to be spent in the River Arts District (RAD) is on the road realignment and widening of Riverside Drive.  There are two types of properties that will be impacted by the implementation of the RADTIP (River Arts District Transportation Improvement Plan). The first type are those impacted by the road realignment and widening plans known as RADTIP.  The RADTIP has essentially been taken over by the AARRC at the announcement of New Belgium in April 2012.

Road Widening / Road Realignment Properties
As you know there is the possibility of 12 Bones business being displaced and relocated but we have also identified 3 other properties that face relocation.  Please note: We have yet to receive final notification that these buildings will be relocated or displaced.  These properties were identified in the RADTIP application itself.  You can access it by clicking here.  It is 150 pages long so be prepared.  We printed it and reviewed it.  The City did not provide this document but we were finally able to locate it a couple of weeks ago. See below with image:

River Arts District Properties to be impacted: Part 3

Of the $50 million to be spent in the River Arts District (RAD), a portion is dedicated to the acquisitions and implementation of the French Broad Greenway.

According to the  French Broad River Corridor Site Analysis of May 2013,there are 23 private properties that will be impacted by the implementation of the greenway.  It is 'desirable' that industrial yards should have fencing or screening put up.

We'll keep watch on this.  We know there are some properties that allow their customers to walk directly to the river and hangout. Let's hope they don't require those properties to put up fencing.

French Broad River Greenway Path
The Greenway will start at Craven Street Bridge and run to the I-240/I-26 Bridge (Bowen Bridge), continue behind the Tobacco Warehouse at 221 Riverside Drive, pass under the bridge to Pearson Bridge Road and then continue to the Grainger Commercial Property.

For more, read the French Broad River Corridor Site Analysis of May 2013

Related Articles
River Arts District Identified Properties for Relocation: Part 2
Properties to be acquired and timeline

Paddlers & Rafters vs. RAD Artists

So, we attended the AARRC monthly meeting yesterday. The agenda was light but the discord quite evident about one particular agenda item: the presentation of the whitewater park. Representatives for the project were there in force but only one presented with a few comments made by a couple of others.

If you recall, New Belgium announced Asheville as its east coast site April 2012. This was a huge boost for the AARRC because the AARRC until this point had no real leverage in order to get its funding for the RADTIP (road realignment and greenways).  This gave them the impetus to immediately begin plans for "updating" and revising the 2005 Riverside Redevelopment Plan which they did by August 2014.  It also gave them the leverage they needed to get attention from the City who finally started pushing for funding of the RADTIP plan.  Afterall, how was it going to meet the promises they made to New Belgium without it? So, by September 2014 with the help of Mayer Manheimer and her connections to the Utilities Commission, they received funding for the RADTIP.

Now what does this have to do with paddlers vs. artists?

April 9, 2015 Meeting of the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Committee

When:  Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 4pm.

Where:  Asheville Chamber, 2nd Floor, Board room

You are welcome to attend the monthly meeting of the AARRC.  Here is draft agenda:

4:00 PM  Call to Order