Hundreds attend public hearing about I-26 Connector

Hundreds of people gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in Asheville to speak their minds and ask questions about the I-26 Connector project meant to deter traffic from the Jeff Bowen Bridge near downtown Asheville. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The I-26 Connector project took another step forward Tuesday with public comment after people got to see the latest plans for the project.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in Asheville to speak their minds and ask questions about the project meant to deter traffic from the Jeff Bowen Bridge near downtown Asheville.

According to Department of Transportation officials and representatives, the public hearing was an opportunity for people to give their input.

They said aspects of the project could still be altered and the questions and comments from hearing would be taken into consideration.

More than 100 homes could be affected by the project as well as three dozen businesses and two nonprofits.

A DOT spokesperson said compensating those property owners for their land should start in fiscal year 2020, shovels could be in the ground by fiscal year 2022, with the whole project taking about five to seven years.

“This humongous project is not the answer. We are not getting what we need with that. And I would like to say that we have this event here tonight, we are supposed to have a comment and answer question period. It is not a question and answer period if we cannot get any answers to our questions. It’s just a sham,” one attendee said to the crowd.

Another attendee thanked DOT for work done on the project, thus far.

“First of all, we support moving forward. It’s time, it’s been time. So, we just need to go ahead and everyone get together. Put your comments, please take consideration of every comment given to you, but the key is, we need to move forward. It’s time,” she said.

DOT estimated the project would cost about $950 million.

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