Public weighs in on River District’s transportation future

A presentation at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College on Saturday Jan. 22 offered a glimpse at what could be the future of transportation in Asheville’s River Arts District, and attendees had the chance to give their input into how they envision changes in the corridor.

The presentation was the first in a series of public input opportunities and the latest step in the planning and design phase that has so far seen extensive informational and outreach sessions with community stakeholders, committees and project partners.

“We’ve had over 30 meetings and presentations since the kickoff of the planning process [in June 2010],” said Stephanie Pankiewicz, of LandDesign, the company contracted by lead consultants Wilbur Smith and Associates to conduct the input process. “We are trying to make sure we interact with a range of interests and community members.”

Asheville city staff and council members were invited to see a preview of the information on Jan. 21.

The River Arts District Transportation Project addresses a 2.2-mile section of the larger Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan adopted by Asheville City Council in 2004 and focuses on portions of Lyman Street, Riverside Drive and surrounding properties. A series of maps, photos and overlays at the presentation showed opportunities for alternative street alignment, greenways, bike and river access and on-street parking. See literature associated with the River Arts District Transportation Project here.

Over the course of the next year, there will be several more opportunities for members of the public to weigh in on their preferred design alternatives, followed by a public hearing in 2012.

City of Asheville Transportation Planner Dan Baechtold, who was on hand to answer questions at the presentation, notes that such input is critical to the larger planning process, one that is intended to expedite the implementation of the riverway plan as funding is identified.

“This study is one step in a long process, but it is an important step. Completing the required environmental study and preliminary design will put the city in a position to seek money for construction,” Baechtold said. “Many of the available funding sources require projects to be ‘shovel-ready.’ At the end of this study we will have made the critical engineering decisions to be ready for those funding opportunities.”

Click here for more information on the River Arts District Transportation Project.

Click here for information on the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan.

Public input for this session will continue to be collected until Feb. 23, 2011 and can be sent to