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When will Merrimon Ave. road diet begin? NCDOT announces October start date

ASHEVILLE - The conversion of the long-awaited and often contentious Merrimon Avenue road diet will begin Oct. 10.

The conversion will take two nights, according to a Oct. 3 N.C. Department of Transportation news release. The process will convert Merrimon Avenue from Midland Road to W.T. Weaver Boulevard from four lanes to three, with 5-foot bicycle lanes along both sides of the road.

Pavement markings for the bike lanes will be installed after resurfacing operations are completed later this year.

Major changes could be coming to Merrimon Avenue, a North Asheville corridor fraught with a high crash rate and a history of bicycle and pedestrian collisions, as the city reviews a proposal to implement a four-lane to three-lane conversion.
Major changes could be coming to Merrimon Avenue, a North Asheville corridor fraught with a high crash rate and a history of bicycle and pedestrian collisions, as the city reviews a proposal to implement a four-lane to three-lane conversion.

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“In less than 72 hours, this 1.5 mile section of Merrimon Avenue will convert from its existing pattern into the three-lane pattern," said Nathan Moneyham, NCDOT Division 13 Construction Engineer in the release.

Asheville City Council approved the controversial Merrimon Avenue road diet at its May 24 meeting.

The months-long conversation has mired the community in a debate about the future of Merrimon Avenue, a traffic-prone and oft-congested north-south corridor central to Asheville.

The conversion is part of a NCDOT resurfacing project, and considers about 2.5 miles of Merrimon Avenue from I-240 to Midland Road at Beaver Lake.

Merrimon Avenue? College & Patton? What are the city's plans to expand its biking network?

The contractor, Rogers Group Inc., expects the work to take about two nights, depending on the weather. The contractor will remove the existing lane markings, place temporary striping and coordinate the lane markings with the new traffic signals on these two nights.

The new configuration from Midland Road to W.T. Weaver Boulevard will consist of a northbound lane, a southbound lane, a center turn lane and bike lanes in both directions.

Moneyham said NCDOT has developed a plan with the city of Asheville to complete the conversion with as little disruption to daily and rush-hour traffic as possible.

Once this is complete, the contractor plans to immediately start milling and repaving this section of the Merrimon Avenue, followed by the placement of permanent traffic markings with completion anticipated before Thanksgiving.

Sarah Honosky is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. News Tips? Email shonosky@citizentimes.com or message on Twitter at @slhonosky. 

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: NCDOT announces start date of Merrimon Avenue road diet