If this highway is built as now designed it will destroy the City of Asheville as we know and love it!! The overall connector plan is too big and not needed to satisfy projected highway travel demands; will obliterate community cohesiveness; and, turn Asheville into an Los Angeles-style spaghetti bowl of elevated multi-lane highways in a manner that is completely out of scale for a City of this size and its mountain environment. Additionally, the prolonged construction timeline planned for the entire 7-mile span will devastate the City’s tourist economy when visitors choose to travel elsewhere rather than fight through a decade-plus of highway construction traffic delays. What may have been right for the Asheville of 1988 is no longer right for the Asheville of 2016 and beyond.
The 2015 version of the I-26 Connector Project is akin to the 1980 idea that the City of Asheville had to raze 11 city blocks of 85 historic downtown buildings and replace them with a bond-financed 700,000 square foot mall, office tower, and hotel complex. This was all meant to spur economic development. If public outrage had not scuttled the idea when the bond referendum that would have paid for it was defeated by City voters, Asheville would not now be the eclectic, quirky, and historically rich city it is today. NCDOT’s current I-26 Connector plans pose the same existential and irreversible threat to Asheville’s future.