The Finance Committee of the Winston-Salem City Council has recommended awarding a Greensboro company the contract for converting First and Second streets downtown into two-way streets over most of their paths.
Sharpe Brothers of Greensboro turned in the low bid of $1.96 million to do the work, which will consist of extensive traffic-signal conversion and repaving.
Jeff Fansler, the city's assistant transportation director, told members of the Finance Committee on Monday that the construction plans are all ready to go and that the project should be finished by September 2021.
"Traffic-signal modifications are the biggest part of the project," Fansler said, noting that the signal work will take place during the winter and into the spring months.
The more visible repaving and striping work, along with the other adjustments needed for two-way conversion, will take place next year after the signal work is finished.
The conversion to two-way traffic is something that was long promised as a city-financed next step to the downtown freeway renovation that turned Business 40 into Salem Parkway.
Early on, people who lived in the Holly Avenue Neighborhood and city chamber of commerce and other officials were calling for the conversion, as well as the conversion of Liberty and Main streets into two-way traffic as a companion project.
As it stands, the city is staggering the work on the two projects so they don't happen at the same time: Liberty and Main will go through its conversion after First and Second are complete. City officials have talked about wrapping up that Liberty-Main project in 2022.
The conversion of First and Second won't be transforming both streets for their entire distances downtown.
Because of heavy traffic at Marshall and Cherry streets, Second Street will remain one-way eastbound from Spruce Street to Town Run Lane, just east of Cherry Street.
And First Street will remain one-way westbound from Main Street to Spruce Street.
Then there's that one little block of Second Street between Broad and Spring streets that will remain one-way eastbound.
That block-long exception to the general conversion of Second Street came in for some criticism when it was first shown to the public, but traffic engineers concluded that the intersection of Broad and Second streets could not function well if westbound Second Street drivers were allowed to enter the Broad Street intersection.
Perhaps the most dramatic change for drivers will be the new look that Second Street would have from the end of Peters Creek Parkway (at First Street) to the Broad Street intersection.
At present, Second Street has three one-way lanes going north from Peters Creek Parkway, turning into four lanes as the street curves to the east at Broad Street.
The conversion plan shows a single westbound lane on Second Street coming from the Broad Street intersection, doubling to two lanes as Second Street curves to the south to align with Peters Creek Parkway.
And where eastbound First Street drivers now have to turn left or right at the intersection with Peters Creek Parkway and Second Street, the conversion would give them the option of driving straight to go into town that way.
In addition to making the street conversions, traffic planners and the city council will have to decide what speed limits the new two-way streets would bear.
At present, First and Second streets have 30-mile-per-hour speed limits as they make their way through the residential area between downtown and Broad Street.
Fansler said the recommendation would be for the 30-mile-per-hour limit to remain after the conversion.
The city council will vote Monday on approving the contract for the conversion of First and Second streets.
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