The overgrown landscape on these College Street islands makes it hard for pedestrians to see oncoming vehicles and for drivers to spot pedestrians trying to cross the street.
Crossing College Street from the county parking deck over to the Buncombe County Courthouse or Asheville City Hall can be kind of like playing Frogger. There are ample crosswalks and drivers mostly stop. But pedestrians and drivers alike are challenged by an overgrown landscape in the islands and medians.
A project by the City of Asheville Public Works Department aims to fix that. In October, Public Works will launch a median maintenance project in the Central Business District, starting with the College Street median between the traffic circle and Spruce Street. That will include thinning the plantings in the medians to enhance visibility.
“One of the big factors we’ve considered in this project is not only beautification but safety,” said Chad Bandy, Asheville’s Streets Division Manager.
Twelve areas in the Central Business District have been identified for this first year of the project. And planting will begin in October.
“The window of planting is October through December, with the exception of warm-weather grasses,” said Bandy.
The traffic circle on College Street will be part of the median maintenance program as will median-island areas on Broadway, Woodfin and Hiawassee streets and North Lexington Avenue. Parts of South French Broad and Coxe avenues will be incorporated into the program as well. Be aware that a few trees will be removed and some will be planted.
Impacts to pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles should be minimal. Lane closures are not expected, though be on the lookout for orange cones to indicate that landscapers are working in the area.
As for the cost: $157,000 in funding to pay for the median maintenance was set aside from the City’s general fund. McGill Associates did the landscape design work on the project.
Following the median maintenance the first year in the Central Business Districts the plan is for the program to radiate out to other parts of the City, keeping equity in mind. Overall the City has just under 300 plantable medians.