Last beltway segment in new road plan, but other projects get delayed
Source: By Wesley Young at Winston Salem Journal
A new draft of the state’s road-construction bible includes the final segment of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway, but many important road projects previously planned now face delays.
The document, called the 2020-29 draft State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, will be put into final form this summer when it is approved by the N.C. Transportation Board.
Significantly, the draft STIP moves the final segment of the beltway, between Interstate 40 and U.S. 158 on the southwest side of Winston-Salem, from the “unfunded” category to a category projects starting construction in 2029.
“You lose some, you gain some,” said Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County, describing how an ongoing process of evaluating road projects can shuffle the mix from one plan to the next.
The state is currently operating under a road plan covering the period 2018-27, but the plans are revised every two years in a process that puts each potential road project through a data-driven analysis of need on the state, regional and local levels.
Projects in the latter half of the 10-year window are particularly vulnerable to shifts, because of changing data and priorities.
It’s worth while stepping back to look at how all the beltway segments are faring:
- All the eastern beltway segments from Business 40 to U.S. 52 in the north are either under construction or under contract for construction.
- The two remaining east side segments, from Business 40 to I-74/U.S. 311 on the southeast side of town, are scheduled to start construction in 2020.
- While adding the last western beltway segment to the list, the draft plan delays many other western beltway segments by a year or two. Under the draft plan, work will start on the western beltway segments on the north end in 2023, with projects progressing from north to south in the years after that.
Some projects listed in the current plan for future construction have moved into the unfunded part of the list in the 2020-29 draft:
- The widening of Kernersville Road in between Sedge Garden and Harmon Creek roads.
- The creation of a new road to link the north end of Peters Creek Parkway to Broad Street.
- An improvement to the U.S. 421 interchange at Jonestown Road.
- The widening of Business 40 to six lanes from the beltway to the I-40 split in Guilford County.
- The improvement of the interchange at Business 40 and Linville Road.
- Adding extra lanes to U.S. 52 from Clemmonsville Road to the beltway interchange.
- The improvement of the interchange where I-40 and U.S. 52 intersect.
- Extending Eighth Street to the west from Marshall Street to Northwest Boulevard.
Ivey said some of the projects may come back onto the list as others are completed. He said the delay of many projects is due largely to two factors: rising costs when other projects move up the list and get more accurate cost estimates; and the re-evaluation of projects as part of the state’s prioritization process.
New projects coming to the list, all scheduled for construction in 2027, include:
- Widening Piney Grove Road to three lanes from Nelson Street to Brown Road in Kernersville.
- Widening Lewisville-Clemmons Road to three lanes between Styers Ferry and Shallowford roads.
- Widening Bethania-Rural Hall Road from Glade Street to Broad Street (N.C. 66) in Rural Hall.
Ivey said some important projects besides the beltway will remain on the list.
A project to widen I-40 from the Business 40/I-40 split in Guilford County to the U.S. 311 intersection in eastern Winston-Salem will be delayed but is now on the list in its entirety.
The start of construction has been pushed back from 2026 to 2029. But the good news is that all the segments of the project are on the same timetable. Ivey noted that under the current plan, only two segments of the widening project were scheduled to start in 2026. The segment from N.C. 66 to the I-40/Business 40 split in Guilford County was unfunded.
Work on all three segments is scheduled for 2029.