Pedestrian bridge reopened ahead of schedule

From a City of Asheville press release:

ASHEVILLE – Responding to requests by community members and Asheville City Council, the North Carolina Department of Transportation on Thursday reopened a pedestrian bridge that spans I-240 near the Smoky Park Bridge and Hillcrest Apartments.  Asheville City Council voted in August to request the reopening.

Though initially planned for mid-January, NCDOT officials were able to reopen the bridge ahead of schedule.  New fencing along I-240 was also installed to prevent pedestrian access to traffic lanes.  City of Asheville Transportation Director Ken Putnam stated, “Having the pedestrian bridge opened ahead of schedule means people have a safer and more convenient way to cross I-240 sooner than we anticipated.”  Improvements continue to be made.  The city’s public works department will complete a patch to an area of broken sidewalk by the end of next week.

The city will move forward community outreach efforts to align with the early reopening.  Beginning next week, city community relations staff will schedule time to meet with neighborhood residents and other identified stakeholders.  Information about the next steps in the crime prevention aspects of the reopening, including community walks and the implementation of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles, will be shared.  One example of a CEPTED principle would be removing vegetation that creates an unsafe environment.

Asheville Police Department Captain Daryl Fisher shared, “we’ve already increased our presence in the areas adjacent to the bridge but the key to keeping the old problems from taking root again will be strong relationships between the community and law enforcement officers.  Officers will continue to work to strengthen relationships in the surrounding neighborhoods.”