Downtown Winston-Salem street changes could improve safety

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A downtown street study, meant to help the city with more two-way streets and easier walking once construction on Business 40 is complete, is also giving hope to Old Salem residents that a dangerous corner could be phased out.

Consultants have come up with options that would eliminate the merge from Old Salem Road to South Main Street. Drivers on those two streets also have to contend with traffic from Brookstown Avenue.

One option to avoid problems includes converting Liberty and Brookstown into a  major intersection that handles a lot of the traffic that people currently see on Old Salem and Main.

“It is a horror story there have been so many accidents or near accident there,” said Winston-Salem Councilwoman Molly Leight, who represents the south ward.

Large wooden posts are set up on the curve to try to keep other homes from being hit by cars.

John Hauser has seen utility poles bent and splintered from the collisions. Eliminating what he calls a bypass into downtown from the south would also help people trying to walk from Salem College and the neighborhood into downtown.

“Drivers are coming around the corner, sometimes at 40 mph and all of sudden there’s someone in the street,” said Hauser.

Hauser would also like to see some kind of walkway so walkers from the south wouldn’t have to cross entrances and exits to Business 40.

Changes to downtown roads won’t occur until the highway construction is complete, possibly in 2020.

One city engineer said the main access points into downtown would remain Cherry and Marshall Streets but turning Liberty and Main into two lane roads will help accomplish a lot of the things people have been demanding of downtown upgrades.

“What we see is a project that over the next 50 to 75 years we have an opportunity to make a statement in our community,” said Connie James, deputy director of transportation with the city of Winston-Salem.