Council approves resolution for feasibility study

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 18, 2019

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Project would look at I-40 interchange and Kinnamon Bridge

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As part of the Lewisville-Clemmons Road improvements project approved last September by the Clemmons Village Council, a major component in the plan is the I-40 interchange and exploring the possibility of connectivity with the Kinnamon Road bridge.

So the Council took action in last Monday night’s meeting to take the next step in the process by approving a resolution for an interlocal agreement with the City of Winston-Salem for a feasibility study on the Lewisville-Clemmons Road Interchange/Kinnamon Bridge.

The $100,000 study includes $80,000 in Surface Transportation Block Grant — Direct Attributable (STBG-DA) funds through the Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and a required 20 percent local match from Clemmons of $20,000.

The concept of doing a study was originally discussed in January 2018 and then at this spring’s Council retreat, according to Village Manager Scott Buffkin. The WSUAMPO Transportation Advisory Committee reviewed and approved funding for this study in May through inclusion in the work program for transportation planning studies.

Mayor John Wait said at the July 8 meeting that “this is just an agreement where Winston-Salem facilitates the actual money, so that’s what it’s really all about still through the MPO.”

And it will provide more information to consider in the plan to help with traffic flow and safety on the dangerous segment of Lewisville-Clemmons Road south of I-40.

Councilman Chris Wrights called it a “no-brainer. If Winston-Salem is willing to cover 80 percent of the costs for the study, let’s get the ball rolling.”

Buffkin said that at this point, this is just approving to do the study with a minimal investment from the Village to see if the Kinnamon Road bridge could be a feasible part of the new I-40 interchange as a way “to create some ingress/egress access at Kinnamon and as a way to take some of the traffic off of Lewisville-Clemmons Road.”

He added that Kinnamon would unlikely ever be able to serve as a full intersection because it’s only about a half-mile from the Lewisville-Clemmons Road exit off of I-40, which is too close for DOT standards for distance between major interchanges.

“But at least if we can generate some type of access there to take some of the pressure off of Lewisville-Clemmons Road, that’s what the study will tell us if it’s possible,” Buffkin said.

“It’s more likely on the eastbound side running along the Ramada Drive corridor, which is sort of like a service lane anyway. It’s not going to do anything at all for folks coming out of Winston-Salem, but it may allow you to get on I-40 there going towards Winston. But all that’s still up in the air.”

Could the Kinnamon component, if it’s feasible in some way, actually be part of the project that was approved for the interchange at I-40 and a busy stretch of highway where the NCDOT ultimately recommended putting down a median from the interstate to Stadium Drive.

“Potentially, I would like to think so,” Buffkin said, ”but ultimately that would be up to the DOT to make the final call on it. Talking it through, if it seems if that’s going to happen, that would be the opportune time to make it happen.

“If they do the calculations and if it takes ‘x’ amount of cars off of the Lewisville-Clemmons interchange, maybe it will affect how big that bridge over I-40 would have to be, thereby reducing that cost. I don’t know without seeing it all. It’s all conjecture at this point.”

Buffkin said that he and former planner Megan Ledbetter along with Wrights and P.J. Lofland, the two delegates from the council who were appointed last year to work with NCDOT going forward, met with Division 9 engineer Pat Ivey and other officials in April to discuss the project.

“We talked through some of the Village’s concerns trying to lessen any negative impacts as much as possible, especially preserving access routes for businesses south of the interstate,” Buffkin said. “They promised to get back with us later this year and show us what they’ve come up with so we can start running it up the flag pole locally.”

Ivey said earlier this year that NCDOT still has much work ahead to reach the ultimate plan. “We haven’t even started looking at the interchange yet, and that will be a big, big part of this project,” he said, adding that right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin in 2023, followed by construction in 2025.