Ask 13: Where are the bond-funded sidewalk projects in West Asheville?

"What happened to the bond to build sidewalks for Johnston Boulevard in West Asheville?" Kelvin Rouse wrote to Ask 13. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Around one year ago, the City of Asheville was fighting for a $74 million bond referendum. Voters approved it in November 2016, but some residents are wondering: Where are the projects that money funded?

The $74 million is intended to go towards parks, housing, and transportation -- which includes some sidewalks.

"What happened to the bond to build sidewalks for Johnston Boulevard in West Asheville?" Kelvin Rouse wrote to Ask 13.

Kelvin isn't the only resident wondering what's happening with all that bond money.

Ryan Imhoff lives along Johnston Boulevard. The road leads to Johnston Elementary School and sees a lot of traffic.

"This series of all these 'S' curves here -- no one's going the speed limit, and there's no safe place to walk," Imhoff said. "You're taking your life in your own hands."

A church, park, and library are all within a mile on this stretch of road, but there are no sidewalks. Residents in the area thought the multi-million dollar bond referendum was supposed to fix problems like this.

News 13 went to City Hall to find if the West Asheville sidewalks will ever get built. Interim Assistant City Manager Jade Dundas said they are on the drawing board, along with many other city projects.

"We are in the process of planning and design right now," Dundas said. "We have seven years to build those bond projects and, so, we have a lot of sidewalks we're trying to get designed and constructed in that time period."

Dundas said many people have questions about the bond referendum projects. To help, the city has developed a new online tool that provides hard facts about proposed capital improvements and bond projects. There you can find start and completion dates, the project budget, and a description of the improvements.

"We really set out to have something that's transparent, was open to the public, that they could use. If they had a question at any point, they could go out and try to help answer any of their questions just with the use of the website," Dundas said.

So, Johnston Boulevard will get sidewalks. The $1.4 million project is scheduled to begin in 2019.

Some residents say these improvements are long overdue.

"It's a just a dangerous curve, and it should be a high priority for the safety of the citizens," Imhoff said.

Dundas said the city has had to spread out the projects over time because there are so many.

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