Big changes coming to downtown Winston-Salem streets

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Big changes are coming to the way you get around Winston-Salem.

It's part of a plan by city leaders to create more two-way streets and make driving downtown easier.

“I’ve spent basically my entire life in Winston and one of the key phrases I’ve heard from people who come to the city is, 'How do you get around downtown and what’s up with all the one-way streets?' I don’t ever have an answer," business owner Blake Stewart said.

It's one-way streets like First, Second, Liberty and Main that occasionally confuse even the people who've lived in Winston-Salem their whole lives.

“I have six and a half years of pizza delivery in my history and let me tell you, driving around downtown, I’ve had to stomp my brakes quite a few times. It is a little confusing," Stewart said.

Beginning this summer, First and Second streets will be converted into two-way streets. Liberty and Main will follow next year in what city leaders say is a $6.4 million combined project.

The project will be completed in 2022 and city leaders say it involves a lot collaboration.

“A lot of these traffic signals are metal poles so that involves getting the material, working with Duke Energy, and then excavating large holes for those foundations. Erecting large traffic signals and of course re-wiring the intersection. All while doing that, while the existing traffic signal is still working, it’s still operating at the same location,” said Jeff Fansler, who oversees transportation for the city.

“These are great steps the city can take to make it more ergonomic for visitors or for people who’ve moved here," Stewart said.

Blake owns Fair Witness downtown and think the one-way streets are doing more harm than good.

“Hopefully this will put those businesses on those streets on a more level playing field with the rest of the businesses," Stewart said. "I’m sure there’s going to be an adjustment period. I’m sure there will be people who think they’re driving on the right side of the street and they’re on the wrong side of the street. That happens on one-ways too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen somebody come at me on a one-way street.”

For those with questions about the project, the city is holding several information sessions. You can read more about the project here.

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