WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - If you use Business 40 to get to or through Winston-Salem, here’s the bad news; your commute will get about a half hour longer. The good news is you don’t have to worry about it for two more years.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has announced the awarding of the contract for the Business 40 improvement project, which totals about $99.2 million dollars. The task of completing the project now belongs to a partnership of Flatiron Constructors Inc. of Broomfield, CO and Blythe Development Co. of Charlotte.
The design phase is currently about 20 percent complete. The next year will be designated to the rest of the design phase, as well as utility preparations and property acquisitions.
“All of those things that the general public typically is not going to see,” said NCDOT Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey.
However, about a year from now, construction will start near Peters Creek Parkway, Academy Street, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
A year after that, in late 2018, the closure of Business 40 will officially begin.
“We’ve never closed a freeway to build a project in North Carolina before,” Ivey said. “This is the first time we’ve ever done that.”
Business 40 is expected to remain closed for about 21 months, which would be ahead of schedule. The work on the highway will be done in three phases, lasting until 2020. The improvements will include removing existing pavement and replacing it, replacing bridges on and over Business 40 with new structures to meet future traffic demands with modern designs, modernizing on and off ramps, and adding visual enhancements to the roadway and bridges.
In addition, some of the on and off ramps will be eliminated, such as the Broad Street exit, while they lengthen others, including Marshall and Cherry Streets.
“Where right now those ramps are right on top of each other, the distance of that weave will be significantly larger,” Ivey added.
Traffic from Business 40 will be primarily detoured to I-40 and Highway 52, where there is currently an ongoing project.
“All of that work will be 100 percent complete before the closure,” Ivey said.
He added that their initial studies show that I-40 will be able to handle the additional capacity. It is estimated that about 75,000 motorists use that stretch of Business 40 each day.
Data will be collected over the next year, which will help the NCDOT determine the particulars of traffic flow and delays, and that information will be released as conclusions are made.
“We’ve spent the last ten years working with the community trying to get feedback, that is not going to stop now,” Ivey said.
He added that they’re working with Emergency Management to come up with contingencies for clearing accidents which may occur on the other two highways while the construction is taking place.
“We need to get those lanes opened up very quickly to minimize those disruptions,” Ivey said.
The NCDOT encourages citizens to contact them should they see any issues as the project takes place.