A multimillion-dollar infrastructure project that’s transformed a 2.2-mile stretch of roadway in the Asheville River Arts District finally wraps up this spring.
City officials say the roughly $50 million work to bring greenways and bike lanes, roundabouts, sidewalks, and stormwater management improvements to the roadway bordering the French Broad River will kick-start a long-awaited development boom along the riverfront. The area has long been home to industrial businesses and artist studios in more recent decades.
The construction along Riverside Drive and Lyman Street started four years ago with the demolition of old warehouses and the building that was home to the original location of 12 Bones barbecue restaurant. It addressed frequent flooding by raising the roadbed, installing new sewer pipes, and adding managed wetland areas.
At the heart of the project is what city officials call Asheville’s first “complete street”—one that encompasses curbs and gutters, sidewalks, a dedicated bike lane, and a greenway. Other new amenities include street trees, public art, picnic tables, and a boat ramp. The River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project, or RAD TIP, was paid for by a mix of local, state, and federal monies.
The city is planning a month-long celebration to mark the completion of the construction, from Earth Day (April 22) to the birthday of Wilma Dykeman (May 20), the Buncombe County native, author, and environmentalist.
The economic development expected to follow the improvements has already started. Here’s a look at some highlights: