Merrimon Avenue Considerations

Last updated or reviewed on June 2, 2022

merrimon avenue traffic intersection
Merrimon Avenue

Happening Now

On May 24, 2022, the city’s transportation department director provided a presentation to the Asheville City Council, which voted in support of proposed changes to Merrimon Avenue that will implement a 4/3 lane conversion between WT Weaver Boulevard and Midland Road.
 
Proposal Purpose: Improving safety and supporting equitable mobility for those traveling, living, working, and visiting Merrimon Avenue. A four-lane to three-lane conversion has been demonstrated to slow vehicle speeds and reduce crashes. 

existing lanes and proposed lanes

The City held both an in-person open house and virtual public engagement the week of February 28 to allow the public to review the proposal in more detail, to understand potential impacts and associated data, to provide feedback, and to discuss the topic with staff from both the City and NCDOT.  

In-person Open House

Monday, February 28, 2022

North Asheville Community Center, 37 E. Larchmont Rd, Asheville, NC 28804

5 – 8 p.m.   

If you require any accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act for the February 28 meeting, please contact Diane Wilson via email or phone at 919-707-6073.

The information that is available virtually is the same as what will be reviewed at the open house. Anyone who is not able to attend the in-person open house will have access to the same materials and content that is available on this project page.
 
Click the image to access the story map. The survey closed March 23, 2022. Results will be shared publicly in April 2022.

Background

The city’s Comprehensive Plan has a vision to make streets more walkable, comfortable, and connected. Similarly, NCDOT’s primary goal is to Make Transportation Safer. Unfortunately, Asheville has a poor track record when it comes to street safety as it continues to be listed in the top 10 North Carolina cities with high levels of crashes (2020 data, page 140).

crash on merrimon avenueIn this context, Merrimon Avenue is a neighborhood connector and commuter route with a documented higher-than-normal crash rate that lacks adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Safety for all modes of transportation is a key factor for potential changes.

At the City’s request, the two intersection projects that were proposed for Merrimon Avenue in 2018 were removed by the NCDOT. The projects as proposed would have widened Merrimon Avenue to five lanes by adding a continuous center turn lane from south of WT Weaver Boulevard to north of Edgewood Road. The projects were listed in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as U-5781 and U-5782.

The NCDOT held a public input meeting on the proposed intersection projects in January 2018. While a few members of the public expressed support for the proposals, a large number of those who attended the meeting and submitted comments in writing were opposed to the large scale of the proposed changes, and were concerned about the safety impacts and the insufficient facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians. Following this input, the NCDOT and the City of Asheville determined to study other alternatives.

As a result, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) assigned a consulting firm, AECOM, to conduct an “Express Design Study” of Merrimon Avenue to review the possibility of changing the configuration of the corridor to better support city and state goals. NCDOT, the City of Asheville, and the French Broad River MPO met with AECOM on Jan. 28, 2019, to kickoff this study that reviewed the corridor from I-240 to the Beaver Lake area, a distance of about 2.3 miles.

Based on feedback from previous public meetings and discussions with city staff, the NCDOT evaluation reviewed the tradeoffs to maintaining vehicle throughput with safety and equity in mobility. The study took about six months to complete and included a conceptual design, a traffic capacity analysis, and a pedestrian and bicycle report.

The City began reviewing the study at the end of 2019. In 2020, the Covid pandemic led to a near halt to this project until early 2021. On March 24, 2021, the Multimodal Transportation Commission (MMTC) entered the conversation. It was decided that representatives from the MMTC would accompany city staff to further discuss the resurfacing opportunity. During the spring through the fall of 2021, MMTC and city staff met with NCDOT to review data, challenges, and opportunities. As a result of those meetings, NCDOT agreed to reschedule the resurfacing of Merrimon Avenue to give the City more time for these discussions. The resurfacing of Merrimon Avenue is currently slated for the summer of 2022.


Timeline

January 2019 – Commencement of the Express Design Study

Summer 2019 – Merrimon Avenue Study documents are provided to the city

2020 –  Covid challenges postpone the project

March 24, 2021 – MMTC discussion of Merrimon Avenue

Spring-Fall 2021 – City and Multimodal Transportation Commission discussions with North Carolina Department of Transportation

February 28, 2022 – Merrimon Avenue Open House

If you require any accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act for the February 28 meeting, please contact Diane Wilson via email or phone at 919-707-6073.

March 22, 2022 @ 11:59 p.m. – Last day to complete the Merrimon Avenue Survey (please view the Story Map first)

May 24, 2022 – City Council votes to support the 4/3 conversion

Summer/Fall 2022 – Scheduled implementation of Merrimon Avenue resurfacing and 4/3 conversion implementation


Supporting Documents

Merrimon Avenue Report and Resolution – 2/18/2018

Merrimon Avenue Letter to NCDOT – 10/18/2018

Original Express Design Conceptual Plans – 7/30/2019

Merrimon Avenue Traffic Capacity Analysis – 7/8/2021

Merrimon Avenue Bicycle Level of Service – 8/20/2021

NCDOT Frequently Asked Questions – 5/20/2022

Staff Report for the City Council – 5/24/2022

NCDOT Survey Summary

NCDOT Ten Year Traffic Crashes – Merrimon Strip Analysis Report

Informational Flier

Link to Story Map

Link to Interactive Map of Study Area

link to interactive map of study area


Contact Information

Contact: Jessica Morriss

Email: jmorriss@ashevillenc.gov


Related Services

Bicycle services

Learn how to safely and securely bicycle in Asheville

Related Departments

Transportation

The City of Asheville’s Transportation Department is dedicated to providing for the safety, health, mobility, and quality of life for Asheville citizens and guests through the administration of engineering, infrastructure and transportation related projects.

Planning and Urban Design

The Planning and Urban Design Department provides sound, professional land use planning, zoning, urban design and historic preservation services to achieve livable and sustainable neighborhoods for everyone. The department is committed to collaborating with our community on its vision for equitable growth and development consistent with Asheville’s comprehensive plan. OPEN ONLINE FOR BUSINESS: Click