WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The bridge on Oak Grove Church Road in Winston-Salem is set to permanently close in two weeks.
The closure is part of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway project, which is aimed at alleviating traffic and improving safety along U.S. 421/Salem Parkway and U.S. 52.
Many people living in the area take the bridge to get to work and school. Now, they’re having to figure out ways to get around the closure. Their commutes are about to get a lot longer.
“I think it’s about to be just a traffic nightmare while everybody figures it out,” said Kayla Soffera, who lives off Glenn Hi Road.
Soffera uses the Oak Grove Church Road bridge every day to get her son to Smith Farm Elementary School. Starting Sept. 19, that’s going to change because Oak Grove Church Road will close between Meredith Drive and Oak Glen Drive.
“It’s going to turn our commute from five minutes to anywhere from 10 to 15,” she said.
Ten to 15 minutes if there’s no traffic. Once everyone starts going a new route, Soffera worries it’ll take even longer.
“This 10 to 15 minutes that we’re kind of figuring right now could be greatly amplified because everybody else is going to be having to do the exact same thing,” she said.
One of Soffera’s alternate routes involves passing by Sedge Garden Elementary School. It’s an already heavily traveled area during school drop-off and pick-up.
“That’s going to obviously affect our mornings, what time we have to leave the house to make sure he’s at school on time,” Soffera said.
The bridge crosses over I-40 and connects Glenn Hi and Kernersville Roads. People who live off Oak Grove Church Road, like Greg Blakely, use it to get to Kernersville.
“I was thinking the hassle it was going to be because it’s cutting us off from town,” Blakely said.
Blakely knows once the beltway is finished, it’ll shave time off his commute. But until then, he and others living in the area are wondering why the bridge has to close so soon.
“You don’t want to question why someone does what they do, but it’s like did they really think about how busy of a road that was when they decided they’re going to permanently take out that bridge?” Soffera said.
In a release, the DOT explained a bit about the decision. “The existing bridge will not be demolished initially,” said NCDOT Resident Engineer Larry Shaver, “but as our work area expands past the bridge, public access to the bridge will no longer be safe.”
“We are excited for the construction of this section of the Northern Beltway,” said NCDOT Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey. “This portion will extend the beltway from U.S. 421 (Salem Parkway) and connect to I-40. There will also be major improvements such as the widening of the Kernersville Road and Sedge Garden Road intersection.”
Completion of this eastern loop section is scheduled for spring 2027.