Asheville charts a new future for public greenways and sidewalks with Close the GAP plan

The recently adopted Close the GAP plan, an 800-page document two years in the making, outlines how to make walkways safer, more accessible, and better-suited for commuters.

French Broad River Greenway West

The newest section of the French Broad River Greenway moments before its ribbon cutting.

Photo by AVLtoday

Table of Contents

The future is looking brighter for Asheville’s greenways and sidewalks.

After two years of complex civic negotiations, the City of Asheville has finalized and adopted a new comprehensive “Close the GAP” plan that aims to make walkways safer, more accessible, and better-suited for commuters.

Since the plan is a dense 800 pages long (see the full tome) we won’t be able to dive into every crevice. But we’ll share the broad strokes, and most importantly, how the new plan will impact our day-to-day experience as pedestrians in Asheville.

Improving accessibility

One major achievement of the Close the GAP plan is that it will ensure any new public rights-of-way are ADA compliant — meaning sidewalks, greenways, crossings, traffic signals + other pathways must (within reason) allow access for individuals with disabilities.

Existing pathways will also be modified to meet ADA standards — an estimated 50% of public sidewalks, 90% of ramps, and 25% of greenways are expected to require such upgrades.

The proposed Beaucatcher Greenway in Asheville, NC

The 1.25-mile Beaucatcher Greenway would connect Memorial Stadium to Helen’s Bridge.

Photo via City of Asheville

The top ten greenway projects

The plan also lays out criteria that establishes 10 key greenway projects — ones that will help transform Asheville into a more equitable and connected community.

The Swannanoa River Greenway — an 8.7-mile path that would connect Biltmore Village, West Asheville, Oakley, and East Asheville — was ranked as the most important project in the city.

Other top-ranked projects include: the creation of the Beaucatcher Greenway and extensions for the Reed Creek Greenway, French Broad Greenway, and Hominy Creek Greenway.

Want more info? The full list starts at page 120.

Asheville's Close the GAP Proposed Network

A portion of the city’s proposed network of greenways and pathways.

Photo via City of Asheville

What’s next?

Now that it’s been adopted, the plan will become the go-to document for future city planning. And as far as new greenways go, there are already approximately two-miles worth of new pathways in the pipeline: the Nasty Branch Greenway and additions to the Reed Creek Greenway, the latter which is currently doing a feasibility study.