A Road in “No Man’s Land” - TribPapers

A Road in “No Man’s Land”

No government owner claimed the type of “no main’s land” damaged in August. Therefore, no one has stepped up to address the damage.

Asheville – “No man’s land is waste or unowned land or an uninhabited or desolate area that may be under dispute between parties who leave it unoccupied out of fear or uncertainty. The term was originally used to define a contested territory or a dumping ground for refuse between fiefdoms.” That’s what you get when you read Wikipedia’s entry for the term no man’s land.

In this case, the no man’s land is a washed-out culvert from the heavy rains and flooding from Hurricane Ida back in August. Floodwaters washed away the section of the road where Honeysuckle Lane and Appalachian Way meet in the Deaverview area of Buncombe County. Neither the City of Asheville nor the NC Department of Transportation (DOT) want to claim the washed-out section of road, which residents have detoured for the last two months. Why? Because whoever claims it has to bear the burden of the repair costs. 

Seeking Answers 

“Our road inventory includes Woodland Terrace and Honeysuckle Lane. When we check our state road database, there is no listing for any portion of Appalachian Way,” said David Uchiyama, Communications Officer for the Western Mountains Area of NCDOT.

He goes on to say, “The city inventory does show Appalachian Way listed twice, but whether either of those sections encompasses where the pipe washed out is not up to us to decide. It is clear from our records that the pipe in question is not on the NCDOT system.”

When the Tribune asked City of Asheville Communication Specialist Ashley Traynum-Carson if the damaged section belonged to the city, she said, “This road is not a city maintained road, it is out of the city limits.” 

The Tribune then sent Traynum-Carson a picture that was included with this article and asked, “Here is a photo taken of the part of the road in question. NCDOT told us that Appalachian Way is on the city list of roads not once but twice. As you can see here, the city limit sign is on the far side of the damage. Are you sure this is not inside the city limits? If not, why does the sign indicate it is? Does the city not survey where these signs go, or is it just an educated guess?”

Traynum-Carson said she would “double-check” and get back to us. That was on Oct. 21. When Traynum-Carson had not gotten back to us by Nov. 2nd, we sent her a reminder. She then handed us off to Polly McDaniels, another communication specialist with the city, who on Nov. 2, said, “I will look into this and get back to you.” 

After not receiving a reply, the Tribune sent another follow-up email to McDaniel, “OK, I will ask again. I have put this forth to the right people but have not heard back. I will circle back to them. Thank you for your patience.” As of press time, we had not heard from McDaniel. 

What’s the answer?

The Tribune asked an expert in the field to look at the information we had gathered and make a determination. The expert, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the closeness of their expertise, said that the city is careful where they place their city limits signs and it is not done by guesswork. They did say that the best way to determine where the line actually ends and to look at the paving work.

The Tribune went to the area and tried to determine where the DOT’s paving work ended and where the city’s started. The gap in the road is about 15 to 20 foot in width. Determining where the two pavements met before the wash-out was not possible.

Full disclosure: The reporter of this article has family and friends who live in the area affected by the damaged road cited in this report. 

Editor’s Note: Also, see commentary on page 9.

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