NCDOT: Find new routes now
Downtown traffic challenges loom with 2018 closure of Business 40
BY TODD LUCK
Those who live and work downtown should start finding alternate routes to get around the closure of Business 40 in the fall of 2018.
That was one of the things Pat Ivey, N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) engineer, told a theater full of attendees during an information session held at a/perture Cinema on Tuesday, March 14.
The project will replace pavement and bridges along a 1.2 mile portion of the highway between Fourth Street and U.S. 52. In order to speed construction, that section of Business 40 will be closed for 20 months, except for the portion between Main Street and U.S. 52 that will reopen in fall 2019. The rest of the highway won’t reopen until summer 2020.
Ivey told downtown business owners, residents and community leaders that they were the primary stakeholders in the project. He said downtown will be fully accessible from Peters Creek Parkway and U.S. 52 during the Business 40 closure.
“This project is going on, but downtown Winston-Salem is open for business,” said Ivey.
The official N.C. DOT detours around the closure are still being worked on. Ivey told attendees to start finding ways in and out of downtown that don’t use Business 40. He said they should also be prepared to adjust these routes to avoid the traffic congestion that the closure may create.
Businesses that can adjust the time when employees need to be at work to avoid peak traffic times were encouraged to do so. The N.C. DOT slideshow even suggested things like telecommuting, carpooling and redoing the work week to be 10 hours a day for four days a week.
One part of the project that motorists will see this year is work on Peters Creek Parkway to help accommodate the additional traffic. Construction will take one year, beginning this fall, and will not completely close either Peters Creek or Business 40.
Another preparatory construction project this year will be the widening of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive between Cherry and Marshall streets and improvements to the intersection of Peter’s Creek and Academy Street. The construction is expected to begin this summer and end in the fall.
After that, Business 40 will close and construction will be done in two segments over 20 months. When it’s reopened, all of Business 40 will be renamed Salem Parkway. The new vehicular and pedestrian bridges will be designed to be more aesthetically pleasing, including an arch that’ll be over a Green Street pedestrian bridge. The walls along the highway will be made of brick and plans are to have public art displayed along the roadside.
The information session was sponsored by the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. Chamber President Gayle Anderson warned attendees that the traffic created by the closure will affect businesses outside of downtown.
“It’s going to impact all of us,” she said.
N.C. DOT will have updates on the project online at business40nc.com, and is working with the GPS traffic mapping app, Waze, so it’ll accurately reflect how to get around the construction.