Asheville partners with Buncombe County on Emma community sidewalk project

ASHEVILLE – Residents living near Emma Road in West Asheville have said for years that the road is a danger to pedestrians. This danger was made starkly clear in a hit-and-run accident in February, when pedestrian Richard Leroy McCoy, Jr., was left in a ditch for eight hours with serious head injuries before being found.

To address this pedestrian hazard, the city will build a half-mile of sidewalk on North Louisiana Avenue, connecting Emma Elementary to nearby businesses. The sidewalk is being built as part of an agreement between the city and Buncombe County because the Emma community is located just outside the city limits.

The county will pay for the project using more than $240,000 in federal grants.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in June unanimously approved this agreement with Asheville city government, and the county will be responsible for maintenance of the sidewalk after it is built.

Though the sidewalk is not being built on Emma Road, where McCoy was hit, it will provide a safer route for pedestrians in that area.

“Emma Road is a very narrow two-lane road, and right now there just isn’t a safe place for people to walk,” said Dan Baechtold, transportation planner with the city. Baechtold credited a community group called “A Safer Walk for Emma” with bringing the need for a sidewalk to the city’s attention.

Though there is no exact date for construction of the sidewalk to begin yet, Baechtold said construction should begin in the fall.

To learn more about Asheville’s bicycle and pedestrian services and initiatives, visit the website.