Great promise for new Research Park road
The Research Parkway in the Piedmont Triad Research Park opened last week to much fanfare.
The new road, which extends from Third Street to Rams Drive, will serve as the “spine” of the research park, and an important connecting point between the downtown area and the city’s south side, said Assistant City Manager Greg Turner, who oversees the city’s Transportation and Planning departments.
“The basic idea of the spine is to support the rest of the body around it, and that was the purpose of this road – to support the area to the north and south and provide good connectivity,” said Turner, a registered professional engineer. “…It’s an economic benefit as well as a connection benefit.”
The Parkway will be further enhanced by the construction of the Salem Creek Connector – a proposed roadway that will pick up where the Parkway leaves off on Rams Drive and provide enhanced access to areas on the southern side of town, Turner said.
“It’s a big step,” he said of the Parkway, which was officially opened to motorists following an Oct. 22 ribbon cutting ceremony. “We’re very pleased, very happy about the road being finished and looking forward to the next one.”
Mayor Allen Joines said the project would not have been possible without the presence of a successful collaborative effort that included city and county stakeholders as well as the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Research Park officials.
“I want to thank all those who came together and made this project possible,” the mayor declared before taking a ceremonial “first ride” along the Parkway with fellow City Council members. “We’ve demonstrated time and time again that this community knows how to get things done.”
City Council member Derwin Montgomery, who represents the city’s East Ward, thanked his predecessor, Joycelyn Johnson for the groundwork she and countless others laid for the project more than a decade ago. The Parkway is a step in the right direction for the City of the Arts and Innovation, Montgomery said.
“This road is not just a road for individuals to drive on,” he remarked. “It’s a road that leads to the future economic growth of the City of Winston-Salem.”
County Commissioner Richard Linville agrees.
“What this has done is help create infrastructure so other things around it can be put into place,” said Linville, noting that the Park will create a valuable tax base for the city and county. “The most important thing that will come out of this will be the jobs that are created… It’ll be a lot of jobs here for people. It’ll be a great asset when it’s finished.”
Council members Dan Besse and James Taylor praised the project for the ways in which they believe it will bring local residents together and the jobs it will someday help bring to the community as part of the Research Park.
“It’s an outstanding example of what we can do with transportation systems,” said Besse, who serves on the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee. “… We are connecting people, we are connecting jobs and we are connecting people to jobs.”
State Sen. Earline Parmon grew up on Fourth Street, not far from where the Parkway was constructed, and remembers the urban rehabilitation project that brought Highway 52 to the city and sliced the community in half, with blacks on one side and whites on the other. At the time, the measure, which displaced families and businesses in the black community, was a source of controversy, Parmon recalled. Decades later, through the construction of the Parkway, things are finally coming full circle, the senator said.
“Many people really rejected the idea of redevelopment,” she remarked. “Now, all these years later, I can see the vision. Now, we’re talking about jobs, we’re talking about connectivity, we’re talking about bringing the city closer together, and it’s just amazing to see.”