AC-T: $22M greenway growth surge coming to Asheville

ASHEVILLE – On a not-so-cold January day, Emily Eldridge was walking with a smile along the French Broad River Greenway, a place she comes “almost every day — I would say at least every other day.”

It’s the access to the river that’s special to her. The West Asheville resident said she also likes to watch the dogs frolic at the dog park, a place she used to take her own dog before her pet died.

She wishes, though, that the greenway system was bigger and linked together better like the networks of trails she’s experienced in Portland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado. That’s why Eldridge said she voted for a recent city bond that includes $4.7 million in property taxpayer funding to build more of the paved paths.

The money will add to an already unprecedented surge in greenway plans paid for by federal, city and other money. There are more than 16 miles being built and planned at an estimated $24 million.

To put it in perspective, in the three decades before 2015, less than 5 miles of greenways were built, with little connection between the systems.

“It’s exciting,” Eldridge said. “It’s really exciting. I’ve lived here about 12 years, and I’m impressed.”

The governments of Buncombe County and Woodfin also have the greenway bug and are looking to link to and expand on the city system.

But there are a few who are less excited about current plans, including property owners who are set to lose land and others concerned with effects on trees and forests.

One half-mile section next to New Belgium Brewing is complete, but the city is updating construction schedules. It’s facing a ticking clock of rising building costs that might mean more pressure on city taxpayers.

Read more and see a video here.

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"The French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world."

Blue Ridge Heritage National Heritage Area