CDM Smith developed the transportation design to suit the unique needs of Asheville’s engaged and exuberant community while incorporating local preferences and recommendations. Federal and local agencies, railroads and utilities personnel were closely engaged in the execution of design plans. The team held several meetings with owners of adjacent properties, local businesses, and special interest groups such as Asheville on Bikes
to ensure the local community’s needs were prioritized.
The CDM Smith team assessed many elements before the launch of the improvement project. Relative proposals and designs accounted for local land use, farmland, social, relocation, air quality, noise analysis, natural resources, archeological resources, construction impacts, visual, hazardous substances and brownfields, and livability in the city of Asheville to ensure all work to be environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.
The CDM Smith team solved for several technical challenges at the site. Coordination of the roadway improvements with the Norfolk Southern Railroad involved several site plan adjustments. To encourage pedestrian and cyclist safety, spans of R/W fencing were added along the railroad corridor in areas of anticipated pedestrian crossing. In addition, the flat terrain of the RAD, located in the floodplain of the French Broad River and unusual for Asheville’s typically hilly terrain, resulted in adjustments of the original drainage systems. To prevent backwater or rising water levels from the river flooding the local properties, flap gates were added to storm drain outlets along the river. As part of this process, the team excavated natural materials along the project corridor that were in proximity to old industrial facilities and remediated contaminated soils from past industrial use of the area.
As a result, the multimodal features of the RAD are a key element of the district’s success, benefits that were recognized by a 2022 ACEC National Recognition Award
. By facilitating ease of access to the lively area through safe pedestrian and cyclist travel, Asheville promotes a healthier lifestyle for its residents, and the successful local engagement has elevated the area into a tourist hot spot
, drawing visitors in to a bustling hub of creatives and vendors. Today, over 200 art studios and 10 restaurants have expanded in the RAD to serve locals and tourists Asheville’s finest art, food, and beer. “It’s not often you get to be part of a project like this. I am very appreciative of the opportunity we have had to work with the city of Asheville,” said Persiani.