RALEIGH – Construction activities are ramping up on the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Salem Creek Connector, which will help traffic flow more efficiently for the 80,000-90,000 motorists who drive through downtown Winston-Salem each day.
Crews are constructing a new 1.1-mile, four-lane road with a median from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive south of Winston-Salem State University to Rams Drive at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. The project includes the construction of 11 bridges, most of which will carry traffic over parts of Salem Creek and U.S. 52, and a roundabout at Salem Avenue and City Yard Drive. A new diverging diamond interchange will be built at U.S. 52, and the current interchange ramps at Rams Drive will be removed. In addition, several side roads will be realigned and the greenway path along Salem Creek will be updated.
“This new road will enhance motorist safety and significantly improve access to U.S. 52 from Winston-Salem State University, Salem Academy and College, and the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter,” said Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey. “It will also reduce traffic congestion and improve pedestrian safety at WSSU and provide a direct route to a revitalized and thriving downtown.”
The Salem Creek Connector will also serve as an important detour route to keep traffic flowing while the Business 40 Improvement Project is under way. NCDOT will completely close 1.1 miles of U.S. 421/Business 40 from east of Church Street to east of Fourth Street for up to two years starting in 2016 to completely upgrade the highway, ramps and bridges.
NCDOT awarded a $68.9 million contract for the project in January to the design-build team of Blythe Construction Inc. of Charlotte and Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. of Charlotte. Utility relocation and drainage work are currently underway, and major construction activities are slated to begin next week, weather permitting. The Salem Creek Connector is expected to be complete by June 1, 2016.
Replacement of Mock Street Bridge
In November, the Federal Highway Administration approved NCDOT’s request to replace the Mock Street bridge over U.S. 52 as part of the Salem Creek Connector project.
“This will allow NCDOT to make the best use of available funding, as well as improve safety on U.S. 52 by maintaining a full-width shoulder under the bridge and providing a future thru-lane on U.S. 52 consistent with the other bridges being replaced as part of the project,” said Ivey. “It will also eliminate the additional impacts to traffic on U.S. 52, which would be inevitable when the bridge was replaced under a separate contract in the future.”
Upcoming Construction Activities and Impacts
On Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, weather permitting, crews will permanently close the intersection of Diggs Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to accommodate the Salem Creek Connector. Motorists will be unable to access Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Diggs Boulevard and are encouraged to use Williamson Street as an alternate route.
On Monday, January 6, 2014, crews will permanently close the existing full Vargrave Street/U.S. 52 interchange, located west of Bowman Gray Stadium, and replace it with the Salem Creek Connector’s diverging diamond interchange. During construction, access to U.S. 52 North will be maintained at the south end of Vargrave Road near its intersection with Waughtown Street.
For more information on the project, visit the project webpage or follow NCDOT’s Triad Twitter feed.
(Editor’s note: NCDOT District Engineer Wright Archer will hold a media availability at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 30 to discuss upcoming construction activities, including the closure of the Vargrave Road interchange. The media availability will be held at the NCDOT Division 9 Office, located at 375 Silas Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem.)