Kristen Haaf, urban planner and designer, discusses upcoming projects in the Winston-Salem area

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Have you seen those twin arches that span the Highway 52 Bridge over Research Parkway in Southeast Winston-Salem? You probably have, but do you know who built it? It wasn’t the city.

It’s the work of the Creative Corridors Coalition—a group of volunteers dedicated to create what it calls “a green, artful iconic network of corridors throughout and near downtown Winston-Salem.”

Kristen Haaf is a professional urban planner and designer who volunteers as the Coalition’s Chair. She told me recently the idea is to take the standard Department of Transportation improvement projects up a notch.

“It’s a gateway in to the city,” she says about the Twin Arches project. “And we chose the location being on U.S. 52 and generally in the southeast quadrant of the city because it’s a place that has been underserved generally by major infrastructure improvements.”

The Twin Arches design pays homage to the arches of the Moravian community and the shape of the oak trees that fill the city.

The Business 40 Improvement Project (when more than a one-mile section of Business 40 will close for two years beginning in the fall of 2018 so crews can improve the highway and rebuild nine bridges) was an impetus for the Coalition’s work.

The Coalition’s spent the last several years raising (via individual donations and those of major corporations) $5.4 million to design and build several projects—most along what will be the “new” Business 40.

“For one thing, we’re just trying to share with our citizens that the city is a special place to be,” she said. “But also from an economic development perspective it’s important for businesses to be able to distinguish Winston-Salem as a place that does things differently. If we’re going to say we’re the city of arts and innovation, where does that play out?”

In addition to the Twin Arches project, other Coalition plans include:

-The Strollway Pedestrian Bridge: a project that will take the 1.2-mile walking and biking path Strollway over Business 40 (it currently runs under the highway) in the form of a tree-lined pedestrian bridge that will connect downtown to Old Salem.

-The Green Street Pedestrian Bridge: replacing the bridge that takes Green Street over Business 40 with a pedestrian bridge that will include large arches. This will serve as a “western gateway” into downtown. (The Green Street Bridge has been closed since 2006 when a trucking accident damaged it.)

-The Peters Creek Parkway Bridge: this is the most difficult of all the projects since it will include a walking/biking path and a multi-lane vehicular street. It’s also still in the design phase, but Haaf says to expect tall pylons on the bridge’s four corners as well as artwork.

-Martin Luther King Drive Corridor Enhancements: the area will get enhanced lighting, landscaping, crosswalks as well as artistic markers that reflect the area’s history and people.

-Enhancements Along Business 40: this will include a multi-use (walking and biking) path which will run parallel to Business 40 on the western side of downtown.

“These can’t just be a series of disconnected corridors,” said Haaf. “The key to it all jelling together is the ability for people to move around the city easily, effortlessly and enjoyably.”

For more information on the Creative Corridors Coalition including renderings of these projects, click here.