Preparing for Business 40: North Carolina DOT Reaches Out to Community Effected By Multi-Phase Reconstruction Project
The idea of this highway in the middle of Winston-Salem is to improve life for residents and the decision to close the existing highway completely for two years during the construction was a decision made after close consultation with the community deciding to accelerate the progress rather than go with a staged plan that would have taken an additional four years to complete.
Pat Ivey, Division Engineer, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Winston-Salem said the design-build project, with an estimated cost of $99.2 million, has been awarded to a joint venture of Flatiron Construction Corporation, a national heavy civil infrastructure firm based in Colorado and North Carolina based Blythe Construction, along with HDR Engineering Inc. The Flatiron Blythe Joint Venture has undertaken a number of projects in North Carolina.
"We work well together," said Jason Mroz, the Design-Build Manager. Mroz noted previous projects including the U.S. 17 Washington Bypass and the I-85 Yadkin River Bridge. The Business 40 project is expected to employ up to 500 workers, and will utilize personnel and equipment that have been used on the I-73/Piedmont Triad International and the Greensboro Eastern Loop Projects.
In one sense the Business I-40 Improvement project in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is the end of the road as it exists. It's not just that the project is going to remove and replace the highway's entire pavement, widen access points and replace all the bridges. But when the work is completed on the 1.2-mile stretch in the middle of Winston-Salem and it re-opens for traffic, that road will be named the U.S. 421/ Salem Parkway.
The new name, along with the critical decision to completely close the roadway for two years, resulted from an unusually intensive community involvement process. "The idea of re-naming Business 40 was actually brought up by citizens when the public involvement process began back in 2006 when the federally-sponsored Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) conference was held in Winston-Salem," said Ivey. He said the public outreach, which included numerous surveys, door to door canvassing and meetings in the community, was necessary due to the key role of the highway in the life of the community and the impact that the project will have.
A Historic Roadway
The project includes the oldest section of freeway in North Carolina. The two lane divided controlled access highway went into service at the beginning of 1958, first signed as U.S. 158, then designated part of the I-40 Interstate the next year. Construction of an I-40 bypass south of Winston-Salem in 1992 led to the road's re-branding as Business 40. Over the years the need for a major upgrade became obvious. Problems included need for a repair to the bridge over Liberty Street, which has been temporarily stabilized. The Green Street bridge was designated as structurally unsound and was closed to traffic.
Since the date of availability, the contractor has been busy on design and permitting work. The ceremonial groundbreaking took place in October 2016, utility relocations are scheduled to begin with Duke Energy and AT&T moving electric and telephone/data lines, respectively. As of early December 2016, Mroz said, the contractor was ready to submit the 25 percent plans to NCDOT for approval.
Construction for the Peters Creek Parkway section may begin as early this summer and is expected to be completed by the winter of 2018. The full closure of Business 40 would then begin in late 2018/early 2019, after the Peters Creek Parkway section is open to traffic.
Phase I involves improvement to Peters Creek Parkway and other area roadways to manage traffic during Phase II of the project. Work includes:
· Widening Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Marshall and Trade streets
· Improving the intersection at Peters Creek Parkway and Academy Street
· Replacing and widening the Peters Creek Parkway bridge over Business 40
· Widening and enhancing the ramps at the Peters Creek Parkway interchange
· Widening Peters Creek Parkway from the interchange to First Street
· Building temporary improvements at various intersections to better handle detoured traffic
· Conducting limited work on Business 40 to prepare for its closures
Phase II, which will involve closing I-40 for no more than two years, will begin in late 2018 or early 2019 after Phase I is complete. Work involves removing and repaving the interstate and replacing the 10 bridges. The upgrade will include 1.2 miles of mainline reconstruction, retaining and sound walls, ITS & signalization, overhead signage, storm drainage, and other off-site improvements.
A Design Group Focused on Arts and Culture
Ivey noted that some enhancements to the overall project have come in the form of bridge designs especially commissioned by a volunteer organization, the Creative Corridors Coalition (CCC), a nonprofit organization founded in 2007.
The stated mission of the group is to work with city and state officials to ensure the new bridges capture the city's devotion to arts, culture, and innovation. "The bridge designs will be developed as artful and iconic features in downtown Winston-Salem. In addition to these iconic projects, a broad range of streetscape betterments will turn ordinary roadways into beautiful and connected networks," notes the CCC website. "Each of these priority projects represents a strategic commitment to support economic development and community connectivity."
The group has raised about $5 million from foundations and private donors. One of the designs the group commissioned and funded is the Green Street Pedestrian Bridge, which will cross over Business 40 in its current location. The oak trees, that are ubiquitous in the region, inspired the arching form of the design. The CCC also sponsored the recent installation of the Twin Arches, by the same designer, over U.S. 52 in the city.