Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

cindy175

Asheville roads, highways, and traffic

21 posts in this topic

Hi all - have been reading up on all your great comments here and city-data forums to prepare for a business/pleasure trip to Asheville in 2 weeks. Learned lots already!

Have a question about taking local roads into downtown Ash. I'd really like to avoid the Interstates/big highways since I live in Northern NJ. Yet, almost all the directions for visitors are given via these routes.

I'll be staying near Biltmore Mall and want your reactions to taking these routes to get somewhere:

1. to Aston Park and downtown - how is Rt. 191 to Haywood Rd.-- then into downtown to Visitor's Center area?

2. any suggestions for local roads to Amboy park and French broad river park?

3. I read on this forum about Route 25 (different name changes in different parts of town) - how is this road to give one a sense of the different sections/neighborhoods in and around Asheville?

4. local roads to UNCA would also be appreciated.

I drive weekly in/out of Manhattan so I'm used to city traffic and hostile cab drivers...heh. In our area you almost always have to take major highways too to go distances of more than 10 miles or so. Would really love to just get off

these kind of roads for a bit so any advice is welcome.

Oh..and I've read lots about how folks down here really don't like all the residential development/highway expansion taking place in Asheville as more and more folks move there. Can't say I blame you one bit. I used to have a cabin in Poconos area of Pa. for 20 years and left because it got to look more and more like <shudder> northeast part of NJ. The southern and western parts of NJ still have some farms, gentle hills, streams and lakes, forests and wetlands but sadly seems we're going to lose them too.

thanks in advance,

Cindy175

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I'll be staying near Biltmore Mall and want your reactions to taking these routes to get somewhere:

1. to Aston Park and downtown - how is Rt. 191 to Haywood Rd.-- then into downtown to Visitor's Center area?

2. any suggestions for local roads to Amboy park and French broad river park?

3. I read on this forum about Route 25 (different name changes in different parts of town) - how is this road to give one a sense of the different sections/neighborhoods in and around Asheville?

4. local roads to UNCA would also be appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Extremely interesting question! I love doing this sort of thing, too. When I'm traveling and I'm given the choice between a "business" and a "bypass" route, more often than not I'll choose "business." I've found that the satellite images on google maps and others are a great way to find the more "interesting" parts of town - look for areas where buildings are constructed to lot lines, there is parallel parking, and sidewalks are wider.

1. When coming from Biltmore Square Mall, Highway 191 (Brevard Road) to a right on Haywood Road (US 12/23 Business) is pretty much the only way to go other than the interstate. Remember the road makes a 90 degree left turn maybe a half mile east of the interstate - though if you miss the turn, you'll end up with a nice view of the city from a bluff overlooking the river.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Orulz - what good info! Thanks - it was just what I was looking for. I especially liked your tip about the 90 degree turn which, if missed, takes me to good view of city from bluff. It's exactly that kind of info that no google map can give! Just might "miss" that turn on purpose.

If you don't mind another question, I've been unable to find out from which directions the rush hour traffic occurs. In my neck of the woods, it's mostly commuters in the morning going east into NYC in the am and north on the Parkway. Is there some pattern to rush hour in Asheville?

All I've read seems to talk about nightmare traffic at intersection of I-26 and I-240 but no one says if it's from the south or the north on I-26 to I-40/240.

Same question about I-40 is the rush hour going east to west or reverse?

This might even be a silly question since I'm sure the rush hour in Ash. can't possible be as bad as what we're used to up here...but still, if I can avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic by staying an hour or so longer to wait it out, I'd do it in a minute.

Again, thanks for all your help.

cindy175

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The afternoon rush hour traffic is for westbound I-26 south of the interchange and west I-240 (which is also east "FUTURE" I-26 [it is marked FUTURE I-26 because the new section of I-26 north of Asheville to Tennessee connects to I-26 south of Asheville via I-240 which does not meet current Federal standards for Interstate highways. The I-26 Connector, which includes widening I-240 to eight lanes with a new crossing of the French Broad River to I-26, is scheduled to begin construction in 2012.]). All of the city traffic going west out of Asheville onto I-40 or "east" on I-26 toward Henderson County has to go through this interchange.

You might wonder why afternoon traffic on I-26 west heading toward Asheville is effected. The problem comes from where I-240 west and I-26 west merge onto I-40 at nearly the same point. A large majority of I-26 traffic merges onto I-40 to continue west to Tennessee and beyond. Combined with the traffic leaving the city in the afternoon on I-240, the interchange quickly reaches capacity.

This shows the layout of highways around Asheville. The numbers are the Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes from 2005 for those sections of highway. The blue section of I-40 shows where construction is taking place (more below).

418007316_e9697dce8f_o.jpg

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is addressing this issue. Work began in May 2005 on widening the section of I-40 west of the interchange to four lanes (west and east for eight lanes total) to accommodate the westbound traffic from I-26 and I-240. Construction should be complete summer 2008 and greatly improve westbound traffic flow from I-240 and I-26.

NCDOT TIP Project I-4401

The right side is the interchange. At bottom right is I-26 coming from Henderson County, top right I-240, and the main section is I-40.

418007327_778431082a_b.jpg

Close-up of auxiliary lanes. Instead of the I-26 and I-240 west on-ramps merging into two lanes of I-40 west at nearly the same point, each on-ramp will continue for close to two miles as auxiliary lanes before merging.

418210836_95ca865616_b.jpg

Friday afternoons seem to be the worst for traffic problems around this area. My theory is that there are more weekend travelers going into the western mountains of the state (Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Harrah's Casino and Cherokee, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, etc.) combined with the regular local traffic. It's just a bottleneck and will back up pretty bad. Add a wreck (which usually happens from the sudden stopping) and it gets even worse.

Traffic on I-240 east usually seems to flow well. This section is better designed than the western side with long auxiliary lanes for on and off ramps and no tight interchanges. I haven't traveled I-40 east of Asheville enough to say how the traffic is, but the problems are almost always in west Asheville.

The only exception is I-240 east (and west) on the Smoky Park Bridge. For I-26 west traffic following I-240 east to go north of Asheville :wacko:, traffic must cross two additional lanes of local traffic crossing the bridge to continue on I-26 west. In this section, I-26 west is essentially only one lane, and a tight ramp at that to continue north (another reason why it does not meet Federal Interstate standards and is marked as FUTURE I-26). Sharp curves also exist for I-240 west near the bridge. Perhaps another user, zen, will post their image of an over-turned truck in this area.

Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
snip ... though remember that Asheville has only about 72,000 residents and the county has about 220,000. Traffic can be moderately heavy at times, and while you might be delayed a couple minutes here and there, the only time you'll ever hit something so bad that it keeps you from getting where you're going in a reasonable amount of time is when there's 1. a wreck, which can happen on any road at any time of day, and 2. construction, which you can find out about in advance and avoid.

A couple of spots to watch out for: Mind you, as my address indicates, I don't live in Asheville anymore (moved away 7 years ago, though my parents still live there and I visit on a regular basis.)

For parking downtown, I never had a problem at the Wall Street deck. Supposedly things have gotten tighter over the years. If you do have trouble, I'm not quite sure what to tell you, you might consider parking at the Chamber of Commerce on Montford and walking.

snip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Cowboy_Wilhelm - Ok...I think I'm getting it! Have been pouring over the maps and links you sent and it seems like the area is playing "catch-up" rather than having had the luxury, like parts of Arizona and Nevada, to have antipated the tremendous growth in population/tourism. There seems to be a debate about 3 vs. 4 lanes each way too - something we in NJ, a very old State, suffer with every few years. In fact, from the maps and the other sites I've seen, there's going to be lots of "development" planned for the areas around Ash. in the next 10 years. Hope the smart-growth philosophy takes hold or you'll come very close to looking like NJ - yikes!

"The only exception is I-240 east (and west) on the Smoky Park Bridge. For I-26 west traffic following I-240 east to go north of Asheville :wacko: , traffic must cross two additional lanes of local traffic crossing the bridge to continue on I-26 west. In this section, I-26 west is essentially only one lane, and a tight ramp at that to continue north (another reason why it does not meet Federal Interstate standards and is marked as FUTURE I-26). Sharp curves also exist for I-240 west near the bridge. Perhaps another user, zen, will post their image of an over-turned truck in this area."

Hmmmm...sounds like something to avoid. Or to try out on a sleepy Sunday morning. Much thanks for all your help!

cindy175

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Cowboy_Wilhelm - Ok...I think I'm getting it! Have been pouring over the maps and links you sent and it seems like the area is playing "catch-up" rather than having had the luxury, like parts of Arizona and Nevada, to have antipated the tremendous growth in population/tourism. There seems to be a debate about 3 vs. 4 lanes each way too - something we in NJ, a very old State, suffer with every few years. In fact, from the maps and the other sites I've seen, there's going to be lots of "development" planned for the areas around Ash. in the next 10 years. Hope the smart-growth philosophy takes hold or you'll come very close to looking like NJ - yikes!

"The only exception is I-240 east (and west) on the Smoky Park Bridge. For I-26 west traffic following I-240 east to go north of Asheville :wacko: , traffic must cross two additional lanes of local traffic crossing the bridge to continue on I-26 west. In this section, I-26 west is essentially only one lane, and a tight ramp at that to continue north (another reason why it does not meet Federal Interstate standards and is marked as FUTURE I-26). Sharp curves also exist for I-240 west near the bridge. Perhaps another user, zen, will post their image of an over-turned truck in this area."

Hmmmm...sounds like something to avoid. Or to try out on a sleepy Sunday morning. Much thanks for all your help!

cindy175

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I believe NCDOT is set on having eight lanes. The fact that they have it on the preliminary plans is pretty much a definite sign. They might as well get it over with now; nothing has been done to I-240 since it was completed in 1981, and there is no telling how long any additional construction would take after the connector is built."

Photo of "Welcome to Asheville" could be used by those who don't want people to move into Asheville. It shows them the downside of Ash.'s rush to grow. That picture looks like our Rt.3, 46 or 22 on any given day.

Read a study several years ago about how increasing the lanes actually does not reduce traffic - rather, it just "pulls" more people into the area to live, and therefore onto the roads, so the roads are clogged even with 8 lanes!

Here in NJ, we have a no-trucks Garden State Parkway going from top to bottom of NJ, near the shore.

I remember it being 2-3 lanes, then 3-4 lanes, now in some areas going from 4-5 lanes in sections. Guess what? Except for "off hours" there's more people living "down the shore" than ever before, clogging up all the lanes at rush hours/summer weekdays, holidays etc. Given the sheer density of NJ there's also very few side roads to take to go north/south for any lenth of miles.

Having said that, I think it's better for DOT to do the 8 lanes since "the powers that be" have clearly decided they want more folks to move into that area. Up here, we suffer the slow torment of always having some road being expanded and it's sheer hell for a lifetime. Better to get it over with all at once I think.

Funny thing too about Asheville area. The very gorgeous-looking mountains, valleys, nature, solitude, etc. will be eroded by all the development that 8 lane highways will bring. The very things that draw folks there will be harder and harder to find. Same thing happened to Pocono Mountains, eastern Pa. It was once a rural, vacation area for NJ/NYC people. I had a cabin in the mountains for 20 years. A population boom occurred, driven by high cost of living in NJ area, and now the Poconos has less and less of what made it a refuge from NJ. We never learn, eh?

again, thanks for all your info...cindy175

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no doubt in my mind that traffic will increase (from growth in the area if nothing else), but at least the new connector will have the capacity to carry that traffic (for awhile...) The current design has many flaws, such as local and highway traffic using the same facilities, sharp curves where the truck over-turned and inefficient interchanges where the delays result from the I-26/I-40/I-240 junction. North Carolina DOT is having to play catch-up to years of growth and poor planning and at the same time plan for what seems to be that never-ending growth.

They're essentially planning a highway that should have been built yesterday and is out-dated tomorrow. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way it goes everywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

to answer question #2:

When we go to those parks (live in downtown Asheville) we like to go down Clingman Ave to where it turns into Haywood St at the River crossing and make our first left onto Riverview and take that all the way to the park. You go through a neat neighborhood, and can see some nice views of the city and trainyard.

Traffic at it's worst here is probably better then NY at it's best.

For as much complaining as I've heard about traffic, I've never had a problem parking a car downtown. Just know you won't be parked right in front of where you are going, and check out the side streets that aren't on the main drags for street parking.

Make sure you check out the Blue Ridge Parkway - if we have a little extra time and are driving with out of towners we will use it as a connector from east of downtown (Folk Art Center) to south of downtown. (Biltmore Square area)

Broadway is a nice connector from downtown to UNCA. It's not as busy as Merrimon, and there is some interesting Greenway development happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In this section, I-26 west is essentially only one lane, and a tight ramp at that to continue north (another reason why it does not meet Federal Interstate standards and is marked as FUTURE I-26). Sharp curves also exist for I-240 west near the bridge. Perhaps another user, zen, will post their image of an over-turned truck in this area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
to answer question #2:

When we go to those parks (live in downtown Asheville) we like to go down Clingman Ave to where it turns into Haywood St at the River crossing and make our first left onto Riverview and take that all the way to the park. You go through a neat neighborhood, and can see some nice views of the city and trainyard.

Traffic at it's worst here is probably better then NY at it's best.

For as much complaining as I've heard about traffic, I've never had a problem parking a car downtown. Just know you won't be parked right in front of where you are going, and check out the side streets that aren't on the main drags for street parking.

Make sure you check out the Blue Ridge Parkway - if we have a little extra time and are driving with out of towners we will use it as a connector from east of downtown (Folk Art Center) to south of downtown. (Biltmore Square area)

Broadway is a nice connector from downtown to UNCA. It's not as busy as Merrimon, and there is some interesting Greenway development happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"They're essentially planning a highway that should have been built yesterday and is out-dated tomorrow. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way it goes everywhere."

Fabulous line. Only a few places are trying the slow growth option - Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City and several Canadian cities that I've been to. Perhaps as the idea catches on other politicians will re-think their commitment to highway-suburban sprawl. It's too late for most of NJ/NYC sadly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was more referring to congestion then crazy drivers... Every time I am in the NY/NJ/CT area I always hit stopped traffic for hours. The worst you will see here is a slow down on major arteries during peak times (or an accident). The driving style here could learn a thing or two from NY - I think there are too many Floridians here who have never driven on a hill or a road that has curves. We like to call them "Brake Flakes." :rolleyes:

There are two shops for the Southern Highland Craft Guild here, the Folk Art Center (on the BRP) and Guild Crafts (on hwy 70). The Folk Art Center is a larger facility and usually has craft demonstrations, and has two gallery spaces and a craft museum. It's worth a trip if you are at all interested in regional craft, and the Parkway is a great road w/ some beautiful stone bridges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I was more referring to congestion then crazy drivers... Every time I am in the NY/NJ/CT area I always hit stopped traffic for hours. The worst you will see here is a slow down on major arteries during peak times (or an accident). The driving style here could learn a thing or two from NY - I think there are too many Floridians here who have never driven on a hill or a road that has curves. We like to call them "Brake Flakes." :rolleyes:

There are two shops for the Southern Highland Craft Guild here, the Folk Art Center (on the BRP) and Guild Crafts (on hwy 70). The Folk Art Center is a larger facility and usually has craft demonstrations, and has two gallery spaces and a craft museum. It's worth a trip if you are at all interested in regional craft, and the Parkway is a great road w/ some beautiful stone bridges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good pix, Zen - Cowboy W. posted the link yesterday and I browsed your site on Flickr. You give a wonderful sense of Asheville scene. What's up the graffiti? Art? Gangs? both/neither?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Cindy175, i really do love asheville and try to capture some of it's personality. As far as the graffiti, i really do have to search it out because there isn't a lot of it, but it is concentrated in a few zones. It's just one of the things that interest me. And most of it does fall into the art for art sake while still being 'vandalism' Luckily, i haven't noticed anything in the way of gangs personally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fabulous line. Only a few places are trying the slow growth option - Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City and several Canadian cities that I've been to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually its called the extend the sprawl model. First you artificially inflate housing prices, then you force growth into satellite towns, then growth leap frogs town to town, and the problem gets worse. Seattle is a case study to why the so called"slow growth" model is a massive failure. This model is terrible for the environment and economy, unless of course you are a big time land owner inside the growth areas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm here in Asheville and thanks to all of you have been able to avoid the highways in favor of local roads. All your tips were quite helpful and took me through interesting and unique neighborhoods. In fact, I even found a few new ways to get from UNCA to Biltmore Mall area.

Wasn't quite ready for all the sprawl that's already here and you're all right about the crazy quilt of road numbers! Really like downtown Asheville and parts of West Asheville are still quaint/quirky.

Again..thanks to all of you for your help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.