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Business 40 improvements getting finishing touches

Business 40 improvements getting finishing touches

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Anyone driving down what used to be called Business 40 can tell the end of the massive renovation looks near.

The overhead bridges sport fresh coats of paint and attractive brick facings on the side walls.

References to the highway on traffic signs are being changed to reflect its new name: Salem Parkway.

Midway between Peters Creek Parkway and Marshall Street, the arches of the Green Street pedestrian bridge cross the downtown freeway.

And this week, workers have been putting down some final layers of asphalt.

But while substantial completion is just a couple of weeks within sight, highway officials say there are enough remaining details to finish to keep workers busy into the fall.

One thing that’s not there yet are the new signs that set the speed limit of Salem Parkway to 55 miles per hour. Tantalizingly dangled before eager motorists almost four years ago, the higher speed limit will go into effect soon without any fanfare.

“We did an evaluation and it met the guidelines for 55,” said Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County. “Once the contractor wraps up the work, we anticipate changing the signs.”

The freeway has been closed for paving during nights of the past week.

“In recent weeks we took out the supports from underneath the Green Street bridge,” said Larry Shaver, the resident engineer here for the N.C. Department of Transportation. “That has allowed us to put down the final paving of asphalt from Brookstown Avenue to the west.”

The part of the freeway from Brookstown Avenue to the Hamilton Bridge got its final coatings of pavement earlier, but the temporary structures holding up the Green Street bridge prevented workers from doing any paving on the western end of the project.

With the suspension rods in place at Green Street, the temporary supports were removed, and now the bridge spans the highway with no structural support other than the suspension.

Business 40 reopened as Salem Parkway in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, capping off a 14-and-a-half-month closure that saw the original roadbed and bridges ripped apart and systematically replaced.

With little room to economically add more lanes, engineers took a different approach: They designed the road to have fewer intersections and longer on- and off-ramps, in a bid to make the higher safer and work better.

“I think everybody has finally seen what we have been talking about,” Ivey said, noting how well the new road is functioning. “Even though we were not able to add more lanes, we made it much ... safer.”

A lot of the work being done now is on the pedestrian bridges and the approaches to Salem Parkway rather than on the parkway itself.

At the Strollway bridge, work proceeds on what has been styled a “land bridge” complete with plantings, to give people who cross it the feel of still being in nature.

Soon, Shaver said, workers will be starting on the gabion baskets at the strollway. These are rock-filled wire cages that will flank the ends of the bridge and give them more the appearance of being anchored in natural stone.

While the Green Street bridge hangs by its suspension rods, the bridge is still off-limits to pedestrians because contractors are awaiting the arrival of the safety fencing, Shaver said.

“We also have to do lighting for the bridge and tie in the sidewalks on the ends,” he said.

Other parts of the work under way include:

  • About 26 signs remain to be replaced. As well, some signs that referred to BB&T Ballpark have to be altered to reflect the renaming of the field to Truist Field following the merger of BB&T and SunTrust banks.
  • Sidewalk work continues at various locations, including areas near the ballpark.
  • Fiber-optic cable installation is proceeding to connect to traffic cameras.

Although a multi-use path alongside Salem Parkway remains a key part of the project, a major section of the work will have to wait because of state highway financial crunches.

The sections of the multi-use path around Peters Creek Parkway and the baseball stadium, including the tunnel under Peters Creek Parkway, are being done under the same contract as the overall project, and workers are still busy on that section.

But to the east, where the multi-use path will tie in with the Strollway, a separate contract will be awarded to finish off that part of the path once the main Salem Parkway contract wraps up in November.

That part of the multi-use path will feature a bridge that takes users over the ramp leading from Cherry Street to Salem Parkway eastbound.

Meanwhile, the city plans to award the contract this fall for the conversion of First and Second streets to two-way traffic over much of their distances.

The project had to wait for the completion of the Business 40 renovation, and will begin with work to put in properly arranged traffic signals.

The streets could be paved in 2021 before summer, according to Jeff Fansler, the assistant director of transportation for Winston-Salem.

First Street, in particular, is heavily patched because of utility work that had to take place before the Business 40 revamp could move forward.

Liberty and Main streets are also on the list for repaving and conversion to two-way traffic, but that won’t be done until 2022, Fansler said.

wyoung@wsjournal.com

336-727-7369

@wyoungWSJ

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