Asheville’s River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project is complete

Photo by AVLtoday Staff

It’s official, the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project (aka RADTIP) is days away from completion. And after 5 years of construction + a decade of planning from the City of Asheville, we couldn’t be happier about its metamorphosis. 

We first broke down the details of this project during its midway point in 2019, but ICYMI (or forgot), here’s a quick explainer. The goal of this ~$35 million project has been to rebuild the transportation network along the east side of the French Broad River in the River Arts District, with the long term vision of supporting businesses, residents, artists + the greater community vision adopted in the 2004 Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Master Plan.

Courtesy of City of Asheville

While I’m sure that many of y’all — me included — have already been enjoying the new greenway expansion for the last few months, you might not be aware of the project’s full scope

Here are the highlights: 

4 miles of sidewalk, 2 miles of greenway and the first protected bike lane in Asheville history

○ A roundabout at Lyman St. + Riverside Drive (hello, safer traffic flow)

2 constructed wetlands for stormwater management — important because the river is prone to flooding

○ Nearly 200 new public parking spaces (which has Laura crying tears of joy) 

9 acres of new waterfront parkland 

○ Several pieces of public art, including the Trash Trout, a sculpted quote from local artist Cleaster Cotton + more

Riverside Drive before and after construction | Photo courtesy of City of Asheville

What’s even cooler about this project, though, is that the infrastructure is only half of the story. While construction workers have been working away, a fleet of new businesses and creators have shown up to play — which helps illustrate that economic investment into public amenities can truly pay off in dividends. 

Over the last decade, the RAD has evolved from having: 

🍽️ 3 restaurants/coffee shops (with no dinner options) ➡️ 15 restaurants/coffee shops (including 9 that serve dinner) 

🎨140 artists located in 16 buildings ➡️ 250+ artists in 19 buildings

🚣‍♀️1 river recreation business ➡️ 5 river recreation businesses 

🍹2 watering holes (a brewery and bar) ➡️ 3 breweries, 2 wine bars + 3 bars

Talk about a glow up. We’re majorly stoked to lounge, drink + stroll by the river while enjoying the fruits of our labor (it’s our tax money, after all). And the City of Asheville is so thrilled that they’re throwing a month’s worth of festivities about it. Part of that celebration includes two virtual components: a French Broad River art exhibition (submissions due April 18) and a community get-together on Fri., April 23 at 12 p.m. The latter will include music, RAD history, and a moment to thank the community + funders of the project.