Asheville’s River Arts District is about to change dramatically; 5 things to know

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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rad_tip_3_public_asheville_2015Asheville’s River Arts District is about to change dramatically. A road construction project known as the RAD TIP, or River Arts District Transportation Improvement Plan, calls for millions of dollars of work to re-align and improve Riverside Drive through the heart of the RAD.

The project will further transform the River Arts District into a tourist-friendly destintation. The project comes just as New Belgium Brewing will be opening its new $140 million East Coast brewing operation on Craven Street just across the French Broad River from the RAD. The brewery alone is expected pull thousands of visitors into the area.

Here are five things to know about the River Arts District construction work:

  • Work will start in 2016: The project has been on the books for several years, but now it’s finally here. Construction will start early next year, so be prepared for a lot of disruption. Riverside Drive is often used as sort of a cut-through for drivers looking to avoid major thoroughfares like Patton Avenue and the Bowen Bridge, but that may not be such a good idea any more. And while most of the major work at New Belgium on Craven Street will be wrapping up, another big construction project is still on the books to begin early next year: the RAD Lofts project at the corner of Clingman and Roberts Street.rad_tip_asheville_12bones_1_2015
  • 12 Bones restaurant is likely moving: The barbecue joint beloved by locals, tourists and Mr. President Barack Obama himself will be moving. It is not closing. 12 Bones will be dislocated because the construction plan calls for re-aligning the Riverside Drive/Lyman Street connection through its property. Folks familiar with the area know the Lyman-Riverside intersection is awkward, and that Lyman makes a hard turn right in front of the restaurant. Chris Peterson, who owns the property the restaurant sits on, has vowed to fight the DOT property acquisition required for the road work in court.
  • There is no pedestrian bridge: During planning talks for the construction project, an idea was floated to build a pedestrian bridge across the French Broad, and parallel to the Craven Street Bridge, to connect the River Arts District to the west side of theFrench Broad River. The idea was to provide easier pedestrian and bicycle access for folks headed to New Belgium Brewing. There is currently no funding in the RAD TIP project budget for such a bridge.
  • Trestle work: In all the talk about truck routes for New Belgium Brewing, one proposed idea was to lower the roadway as it passes below the railroad’s train trestle right in front of Smoky Park Supper Club. Currently the trestle is too low to accommodate big trucks. That idea will become a reality under the RAD TIP plan. The work will also require significant drainage work to be sure that water doesn’t pool on the newly lowered road. (Water already pools there.)rad_tip_2_roundabout_asheville_2015
  • More roundabouts: There are at least two more roundabouts coming to the River Arts District. One will be at the above-mentioned re-aligned intersection of Riverside and Lyman. The other will be at the four-way intersection of Clingman Avenue/Roberts Street/Depot Street/Lyman Street. There’s an existing roundabout at the intersection of Roberts Street and Clingman Avenue, where Clingman meets the Haywood Street bridge.
Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Stu Helm November 16, 2015

    No pedestrian bridge. Because… walking is for a******s. Drive drive drive from downtown to West Asheville everybody! More cars, more trucks, more fumes, more poison, more death, YAY, more oil wars! A pedestrian bridge would ruin all of that! I mean, what kind f*****g s******d wants to walk from one side of the river to the other? The worst kind, that’s who.

    It f*****g annoys me that ALL of the “solutions” to traffic issue are to make it easier for more and more cars to squeeze through our town, and NONE of them involve actually reducing traffic with things like light rail, bike paths, stairways, or something as simple and potentially beautiful as a pedestrian bridge. Welcome to the River Car Farts District.

  2. Local woman November 14, 2015

    Let’s just all agree that it’s no longer an arts district. Perhaps River Brewery District?

  3. thorelect November 14, 2015

    tear down an occupied good building and DO NOT touch a vacant building for the same roundabout? What sense is that?

  4. Nathan November 13, 2015

    This will take forever.

  5. orulz November 13, 2015

    It’s actually a 5 way intersection at Clingman/Robers/Lyman/Depot.

    From the map, also seems like Clingman Avenue is getting converted to one-way southbound; is this true? I wonder how the developer of the RAD Lofts Bait-And-Switch complex feels about that.

    1. luther blissett November 13, 2015

      If ever an intersection in town was crying out for a roundabout, it’s that one.

  6. smytty November 13, 2015

    Hey 12 Bones… come on up the hill to East/West Asheville! You will be welcomed with open arms.

    1. Eric Linne November 13, 2015


    2. Grace O'Malley November 13, 2015

      Or come up to Fairview. Make Angelo’s an offer they can’t refuse, so they’ll close up shop and let 12 Bones take over.

    3. weavervilleman November 16, 2015

      OR Weaverville! Plenty of open space with patios.

  7. The Real World November 12, 2015

    Love roundabouts! Bring ’em on…..the keep the traffic moving.

    1. Kimboronni November 13, 2015

      Yes, a big fan of the roundabouts!

  8. mountaingirl November 12, 2015

    oh no! Now there will be no sacred non-trolley spots in a-ville! Bummer


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