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Stories from the Innovation Quarter

Business 40 Shutdown: Q&A with NCDOT's Pat Ivey

Whether you work or live in the Innovation Quarter, come here periodically for our community events or just to visit Bailey Park, how you come and go from here will be affected in just a few short months.

The shutdown and reconstruction of Business 40 is one of the most talked about topics in Winston-Salem. While downtown looks to gain better connectivity to the rest of the city and a more welcoming entry to the city for visitors and residents alike, anyone going to, from or through this part of the city will need to prepare for the “growing pains” of development.

Pat Ivey, NC Department of Transportation Division (NCDOT) 9 Engineer, answered some of our questions about getting downtown during the construction—such as the best routes to our city’s center and where to get up-to-date travel information.

Finding a New Route

What are the best routes for getting into downtown if people normally travel on Business 40?
From the east, motorists can exit at U.S. 52 north to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive or U.S. 52 south to the new Research Parkway interchange. From the west, motorists will use the new Peters Creek Parkway interchange off of Business 40 to access downtown.

For people who live outside of downtown and commute to the Innovation Quarter, how much time should we plan to add to our commute?
Motorists should allow at least 20 extra minutes for commuting during the closure.

How about suggested routes for people who usually commute through downtown?
All through traffic should utilize Interstate 40 between the eastern split in Guilford County and the western split at U.S. 421 near Jonestown Road. Traffic already on Business 40 will be directed to use Peters Creek Parkway, Interstate 40 and U.S. 52 as the local detour route for the closure.

The City has added additional cameras to monitor traffic on local roads and is able to make necessary changes to traffic signals to improve traffic flow. NCDOT also has a coordinated Incident Management Plan, including a Quick Clearance policy in place, plus other unique services that will remove incidents quickly and get traffic back to “normal” flow.

Handling Traffic Problems

How does NCDOT plan to deal with increased traffic on local roads around downtown?
Improvements to U.S. 52, the new Research Parkway and an upgrade to the city’s traffic signal system are examples of transportation improvements that have been made over the last five years to help with the Business 40 detour traffic. Other improvements will be made at specific locations around the city to accommodate the additional traffic—such as the widening of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive/8th Street to four lanes from Trade Street to Cherry and Marshall streets and the addition of turning lanes on Academy Street at Peters Creek Parkway. Minor improvements are also being made to other intersections in the downtown area to make traffic flow better during the closure.

Check out the map below for available routes—shown in green. These roads can handle the additional traffic during the closure.

How will response time for emergency services be affected?
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Novant Health, and all local and regional EMS agencies have been active participants in the planning process for this project. Each agency is working on their own response plan to minimize delays.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has a Business 40 page that has updated information on how to navigate to the Medical Center during construction. Novant Health will also be posting information about the closure, detour routes, etc. in the coming months.

How will the customers of downtown businesses be affected? How can visitors get up-to-date information about routes?
NCDOT is working with a small business liaison, who has been coordinating with downtown businesses to help prepare for the closure and provide available resources.

Businesses and other stakeholders should provide a link to the Business 40 project website on their websites for updated project information and to help customers with directions and trip planning. An updated version of the website will be released later this summer.

How will NCDOT share day-to-day information for locals? What are the suggested navigation apps for up-to-date rerouting?
The Business 40 project website will be the best resource for up-to-date information. NCDOT will send out press releases to local media on a routine basis to update citizens on the project. NCDOT is also partnering with the WAZE app on the Business 40 project. This partnership will allow better interface and instant changes to navigation directions.

The Pay-Off

Will it be worth it? How is downtown expected to benefit from the new parkway?
Absolutely! Once complete, the Business 40 corridor will be safer and able to handle more traffic than it does today. In addition, the locally funded aesthetic enhancements that will be included on the bridges, retaining walls and sound barriers will improve the appeal of our city and potentially the quality of life for the community and downtown in particular.

This project is truly different from anything else we’ve ever done in North Carolina, and it will definitely showcase the City of Arts and Innovation.

What will the changes to Business 40 look like?
Check out the video below to experience a virtual drive down the ‘new’ Business 40 as well as learn about new pedestrian amenities tied to the project.

For up-to-date information about Business 40 construction, visit NCDOT’s website dedicated to this project.