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Major changes coming to Charlotte Street

Under the “road diet” option city council approved, those four lanes will drop to three with a five foot buffer on each side for bike lanes. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Many Charlotte Street business owners and residents got their wish Tuesday night as Asheville City Council approved significant changes to how the road will be divided.

The section in question, a half-mile stretch from Chestnut Street to Edwin Place, sports four 10-foot wide lanes with adjacent sidewalk on both sides of the road for most of that stretch.

Under the “road diet” option city council approved, those four lanes will drop to three with a 5-foot buffer on each side for bike lanes.

The speed limit on the road had already been lowered to 25 mph, and crosswalks at Broad and Baird streets are nearly complete.

Improvements on Charlotte Street have been listed in the Asheville General Capitol Improvement Program since Fiscal Year 2014-15, but city council chose a version of the so-called “road diet” plan among options, which included keeping four lanes and instead adding bike sharrows.

Sharrows mark roads to indicate where cyclists share lanes with motorists and can also help direct cyclists to preferred travel corridors.

Mike Sule, director of Asheville on Bikes, attended Tuesday’s meeting and provided input.

“When you have a busy corridor with high traffic volumes, that sharrow will either keep people from riding or potentially could put more people in danger,” Sule said.

Asheville on Bikes and many residents in the area support the plan, but some residents are concerned the changes could increase travel times.

A traffic study paid for by the city of Asheville concluded at most 10-15 additional seconds of driving would result from the changes.

The budget for the project is $1.25 million with assumed cash flows of $200,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 and $1,050,000 in fiscal year 2019-20.

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