The French Broad River MPO is Asheville’s regional metropolitan transportation planning organization and they’ve played an essential part of the planning for the I-26 Connector project. http://www.fbrmpo.org/members-and-agencies/ The MPO is an official member of the project’s “Merger Team” which is the ultimate decision-making body on the technical details of the I-26 Connector.
While the French Broad River MPO wants the I-26 Connector project built, they’ve not really been overly concerned about the various alternatives that were under discussion. Vice-Mayor Gwen Wisler and Council Member Julie Mayfield told Coalition representatives in a September 6, 2016 meeting that the MPO takes its marching orders from the City of Asheville when it comes to endorsing or opposing various alternatives on the Merger Team. As one can see from the 16-page project analysis, the current location was not envisioned by the MPO.
In fact, the high costs associated with the construction of Alternative 4B should give the region pause because the Strategic Mobility Formula that was instituted to prevent pork-barrel spending based on political friendships has worked to equalize transportation funding across the State. To the extent that needlessly excessive investments are made on the I-26 Connector project to build 4B, those dollars are wasted for the broader region and the state of North Carolina as a whole.