First Street has been in chaos due to the rerouting of a new water line in preparation for the $99 million remodel of Business 40, which will begin in 2018. The water-line work is being completed in 2-block segments along 1st Street between Church Street and Peters Creek Parkway.
The construction company is continually finding old railroad under 1st Street, leaving the end date up in the air.
Melvin Hurley Jr., civil engineer inspector of the Department of Transportation said they are rotating the waterline construction between both lanes to keep traffic flowing safely.
The work requires drivers to take detours in and around downtown. Most of these alternate routes will send drivers to larger roads like Business 40, and there will be multiple ways to get into the city and main downtown area.
Sgt. Kevin Bowers of the Winston-Salem Police Department said, “[The water line work] has to affect folks driving to the BB&T insurance building, the Wells Fargo building, and many other businesses right off 1st Street.”
The 1st Street closure has already begun to affect and inconvenience local businesses, as their traffic and business is re-routed.
“It’s been difficult,” said Steve Overcash, a Wells Fargo employee. “There’s only one lane open sometimes, and it changes. I have to park on the Church Street parking deck now, and it’s still unknown when it will be completed.”
The Business 40 project’s Business Liaison, Cassandra Herndon, has met with business owners along Peters Creek Parkway and downtown to identify their needs and understand their concerns when Business 40 closes. Her focus is on helping them navigate the closure by providing information packets to encourage business owners to reach out to experts and develop strategies to prepare for the impact.
Herndon has worked closely with North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) representatives, and Karen Simon, president of Simon Resources, a consulting and management company, to make presentations and review the highway projects with businesses that request information.
“I’ve been working on [the project] since 2006,” said Simon. “We did all the planning process. I do public outreach on what’s happening and what’s to be expected. I work with businesses, nonprofits, and write the newsletters which explain the project. Now I’m working on the website, continuing public outreach as a planning consultant.”
The Peter’s Creek Parkway interchange will feature a 6-lane road, with a 7-lane bridge. The brand-new interchange will bring new movement to the area. The project will include several bridges with arches, two pedestrian bridges, a land bridge, and a multi-use path that goes from Peters Creek along Business 40.
The presentation can be found on the project website, with this video on YouTube.
The estimated timeline of the water line project foresees heavy equipment coming in starting October 23, although some machinery is already visible downtown. The projected end date for the entire Business 40 project is summer of 2020. Workers will start the Business 40 construction in the fall of 2018, but a year later, they will be able to open the area from Main Street to US-52, which will be a huge help to people working in those areas.
The overall benefit of the Business 40 project is safety. The goal is to improve the flow of traffic, bring the infrastructure up to code, and add to the overall aesthetic of the roadway.
“Small businesses are concerned,” said Simon. “But the Chamber of Commerce, and the Winston-Salem Downtown Partnership are working on a big marketing campaign to help the businesses make sure people still come downtown to eat and shop. You’ll probably see more local traffic coming into downtown.”
The Business 40 project is being funded by NCDOT, which plans to subsidize the parking costs for local employees while construction is underway.
Morgan Adkins, a Wells Fargo teller said, “I come from the University Parkway direction, so it hasn’t affected me. But the Business 40 closure will close our free parking lot, so we’ll have to pay $80-125 a month and park elsewhere until it’s finished.”