Haywood Road Sidewalk Art Project

15 Nov

1. In 2013, as a way of addressing potential problems from traffic caused by the New Belgium brewery being built on Craven Street in East West Asheville, the City of Asheville agreed to a project (partially funded through a grant from New Belgium) to create bike lanes and complete sidewalks on the uphill side of Haywood Road, coming from the river. The new bike lane has been painted, and six-foot sidewalks are scheduled to be poured in early 2015.EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.001

2. Most of Haywood Road climbing the hill from the river will look like this:
EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.002

3. As the project was being designed, neighborhood residents asked if artistic or decorative elements could be added to the sidewalk as it was being built or immediately after (Think Riverwalk in Austin). The idea was to represent West Asheville art, culture, and history; and to enliven the walk up the hill from the River Arts District. With the city’s permission, a committee began looking at possible motifs drawing on local architecture — especially the old West Asheville Fire Department, now A Touch of Glass in East West Asheville, which was also the inspiration for the West Asheville sign about 25 years ago:EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.003

4. The committee landed on the idea of using a keystone design drawn from the Fire Dept. windows, a sort of frame which could be filled in with references to the history, culture and art of our neighborhood, and eventually replicated throughout West Asheville:EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.004

5. One possible variant would orient the keystones to compass directions, so as the sidewalk curved up the hill, it would orient pedestrians to the area and point West into West Asheville:EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.005

6. The WEST could be emphasized or incorporated to varying degrees:
EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.006

7. And the interior of the “frame” could be filled in any number of ways. At the November EWANA meeting, attendees agreed a committee should start to hash out details and identify possible art or design to include in the “frames”:EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.007

8. Some details: The icons will start at Craven Street intersection and run up the uphill side of Haywood to Beechum’s Curve (where the daycare was). There will initially be about 25 frames, or one every 100 feet from the river. They will be done in road paint rather than concrete stain, so as to include icons on the current existing sections of sidewalk, and will be done by stencil by city crews. After the stenciling, neighbors will be responsible for designs, identifying artists, and upkeep. If the icons are tagged, the city has said it will treat them like any other graffiti and erase them. The whole project must be ADA compliant.

So that’s all good. Now the tough part:

9. Initially, part of the art project included adding a stripe along the edge of the sidewalk:

EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.008

10. The point (besides being pretty) was to demarcate the edge of the walk through long areas of continuous curb cut (i.e., areas without a real curb, where cars can pull in at any point, which is dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians.)

EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.009

11. NCDOT maintains Haywood Road along its whole length. It has a set of standards for marking things like bike lanes where there are intersections or possible car crossings:EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.010

12. For the new sidewalk the standards are less clear. Should the edge be marked by a broken line where cars can cross — and in what color? These are important questions that won’t be resolved soon. We’re requesting volunteers that can help interpret DOT’s standards and work with the state and city to get this important thing done.
EWANA-Haywood-sidewalk.011

So we’re looking for ideas, inspiration, and participation. If you’re interested, please follow East West Asheville Neighborhood Association on Facebook or contact us one of these ways. We’ll be coming back to the community for ideas and input as the process moves forward. Thanks for being part of something cool, unique to our city, artistic, and lasting for years to come! Cheers.

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