DOT presents overview of area road improvement projects

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 22, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

While discussing NCDOT road projects in Division 9, which includes Davie County, Pat Ivey was asked what would help most with the congestion at the intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 801.

“There are several projects that will help with that,” said Ivey, the division engineer, in a presentation last Tuesday night before the Bermuda Run Town Council. “The ultimate solution is probably the widening of 801 and widening of U.S. 158, just solely because of the volume of traffic that goes through there. There just simply aren’t enough lanes to handle the traffic.”

Ivey provided an overview of major projects in the area, including widening I-40 to six lanes from west of N.C. 801 in Davie to east of Harper Road in Forsyth County, noise walls along that corridor, other Davie and Forsyth projects, and even an overview of Business 40 in downtown Winston-Salem, which was closed last Saturday and will reopen sometime in spring 2020.

Before talking about the U.S. 158/N.C. 801 intersection and the possibility of adding a new interchange on I-40 at Baltimore Road, Ivey said that the $72 million I-40 widening project is about 22 percent complete with the biggest challenge to date being the constant wet weather.

He said that the I-40 bridge replaces two structures with a single structure and that the bridge has three phases and requires three traffic shifts to complete. He added that two lanes of traffic in each direction will be maintained throughout construction with lane closures only permitted at night (and restricted to midnight to 6 a.m. during Tanglewood’s Festival of Lights).

The westbound bridge that is under construction should be finished in spring before work begins on the eastbound bridge.

Once the project is complete, Ivey said that the access onto and off of I-40 at the N.C. 801 interchange will be improved.

Along with the work on this portion of I-40, Ivey said that there are four different locations where sound walls will be installed and that areas damaged during the clearing process will be repaired and “tidied up.”

Ivey said that construction on the Bert’s Way Pedestrian Bridge over I-40 in Bermuda Run should be installed in the fall of 2019.

“This will be a weathering-steel arc truss bridge, which will fit in very well with the historic character of the area through there,” Ivey said. “There will also be lighting installed with that, so visually it will really be a nice addition to the road itself.”

As for the U.S. 158/N.C. 801 intersection, Ivey said that the access onto and off I-40 at the N.C. 801 interchange will help some after the widening project is complete, but he added: “It’s not going to correct the problem by no means. There’s a lot of things we’ve been looking at from roundabouts to additional lanes and different things like that. That is a major project. We’ve done all the easy stuff out there now. Anything that is really going to help that intersection is going to be a significant costly project.”

However, Ivey said getting a new interchange on I-40 at Baltimore Road “will go a long way toward reducing the amount of traffic, particularly truck traffic, that currently has to go through that intersection to reach the interstate.”

Mayor Ken Rethmeier announced at the Bermuda Run Town Council’s September meeting that all 40 of the town’s points for the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s prioritization and point assignment process would go toward the interchange project, joining Davie County in the effort.

This supports a study by Kimley-Horn in 2016 that recommends an interchange on I-40 between Exit 180 (N.C. 801) and Exit 174 (Farmington Road) to help accommodate industrial traffic, primarily generated from the new Ashley Furniture distribution center.

“This project, that as I recall was No. 38 on the list, and after the redesignation of points in projects, it moved from 38 to 7, and that project would go a long way in eliminating a great deal of the congestion that we currently see, pardon the expression, truck traffic coming in and out of Ashley Furniture. So that’s a key piece.”

Ivey said that the division has supported the project and that “it scored very well so we are awaiting with anticipation as you are all” to learn in January or February where things stand with moving forward.

Even though projects are being completed and more are in the pipeline, Ivey said that the needs far exceed available funding.

Two major projects in Davie that have been completed are pavement rehabilitation on I-40 from Farmington Road to U.S. 601 with a price tag of $29.7 million and the roundabout at the I-40 eastbound ramp at Farmington Road. An upcoming project, which is scheduled to start in January, is pavement rehabilitation on I-40 from U.S. 601 to the Iredell County line with a cost of $38.7 million.

Ivey concluded his remarks with an update on Business 40 in downtown Winston-Salem, which will include all the new bridges along with the Green Street Pedestrian Bridge — a suspension bridge in which he said there’s “nothing like this in North Carolina. This section of Business 40 is only one mile, but it’s going to be a showpiece. I believe everyone will forget all about the detours they had to take while Business 40 was closed.”

Ivey said that the original schedule called for the project to be finished in 20 months, but he hopes it could happen in “as early as 14 months. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

In the business portion of the meeting, the council unanimously approved a budget amendment request to the gate operations fund to allocate $18,000 for the removal of 102 Leyland Cypress trees from the N.C. 801 gate north toward U.S. 158.

Also, during his comments, Rethmeier recognized Cindy Griffith for successfully completing her course work and exam to be a certified municipal clerk.

Town Manager Lee Rollins shared with the council that Sheriff J.D. Hartman and Officer Jason Robertson will provide a community policing update at the Dec. 11 meeting.