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Council reviews roundabout designs | News

Brevard City Council recently reviewed design concepts for how several roundabouts planned for the area could look in the future.

There are currently five Brevard roundabouts planned: one at Wilson Road close to Oskar Blues Brewery, another already on Ecusta Road, and three separate roundabouts planned along Asheville Highway at Chestnut Street, Osbourne Street and in front of the Pisgah Heights subdivision.

At the March council meeting, officials heard from landscape architect Teresa Buckwalter with Traffic Planning and Design Inc., which is working with the NC Department of Transportation (DOT) to make these areas not only safer but also perhaps more than just grassy knolls in the center of the roundabouts when all are completed between now and 2028.

“These designs are in the very early conceptual states right now,” Buckwalter said. “Some of the constraints we have to work with are provided for safety reasons because we don’t want to put anything out there that will block a driver from being able to see where they will need to go next.”

The roundabout planned near Old Hendersonville Highway off Wilson Road is part of a project to widen and realign that stretch of road. It is scheduled for completion before 2027, and Buckwalter suggested that roundabout could include some unique features.

“We know that area trends to be low-lying in the floodplain, so the theme we are looking at for this one is a rain garden that can help clean up stormwater,” she said, adding the combination of native plants’ bio-retention soil would effectively filter rainwater. “We think we can do something there that’s going to be really functional but also has some decorative and colorful native plants.”

The roundabout already in place at Ecusta Road could also get a distinctive makeover.

“We think that betterments here could include the sprockets from the old Ecusta Plant,” said Buckwalter, referencing the former flax pulping and paper manufacturing facility. “There are these rusted old sprockets out there that are very industrial looking that is almost sort of sculptural in and of itself.”

A sculptural concept also being considered for the roundabouts planned for Asheville Highway.

“We have three going in there, and it’s going to be really interesting to drivers coming into the city of Brevard because that will set up kind of an arrival sequence of one roundabout, another roundabout and then another roundabout,” she said. “It’s a sense of repetition in a way, but what we want to do with these is bring in some elements from downtown so people get a visual sense that they are in the city of Brevard. We can’t bring in benches and sidewalks, but we certainly can bring in similar stonework to what is downtown along with higher-end plant material.”

There could also be room for sculptures and other public art to welcome drivers to town.

“Another option I would like to put out there is that this is a community that values ​​art and has done some really great things with sculpture downtown,” Buckwalter said. “We know it is challenging to get a sculpture approved within a right of way because of sight issues, but we are talking about some fairly sizable roundabouts. These are just sketches of ideas, but we would think of the roundabout as a canvas for artwork. The idea would be that we would design the canvas and then the art would come from the community.”

No specific decisions on adding sculptures were made as council was merely receiving information and updates on the design phases of the roundabouts, but officials were asked their preferences on night-time lighting for these projects. DOT will pay installation costs for standard street lighting for the roundabouts, but any additional for illumination after dark would be the city’s responsibility.

“It seems to me that would be an opportunity to highlight some of the roundabouts that lead downtown and give people a signal this is the way to get there,” said Brevard City Councilman Aaron Baker. “We’ve talked a little about how at that main Pisgah Forest intersection one might be confused that they are already in Brevard when they get there. If we add lighting to the ones along Asheville Highway, it could sort of be like a runway leading right to downtown.”

Jonathan Rich may be reached at (828) 883-8156 or at jrich@transylvaniatimes.com

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