Downtown Winston-Salem traffic projects move closer to reality

Downtown Winston-Salem traffic projects move closer to reality
June 18
00:00 2015

N.C. DOT, consultant give more info on what’s ahead

In photo above: Winston-Salem Council Member Jeff Macintosh of the Northwest Ward speaks with people who attended the drop-in session on the Downtown Study on Tuesday, June 16. (Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle)

By Tori Pittman
For The Chronicle

Traffic flow in Winston-Salem will be hectic at some point as road projects take shape for downtown.

The N.C. Department of Transportation and the Davenport company had their drop-in session on the Downtown Study and the Interstate 40 Business Project on Tuesday, June 16, at the Old Salem Visitor’s Center. This session was a follow-up from the May 28 meeting at the same location.

Members of Davenport, an engineering, design and consulting firm based in Winston-Salem, were present to answer questions that residents had during the formal presentation.

“I think overall, people are pretty happy about the potential of turning downtown into two-way traffic and additional parking,” said John Davenport Jr., president of Davenport, the company. “The process is working. People are coming out and giving feedback. We’re going back and analyzing, making modifications. So what we anticipate is at the end of this process, we will have something embedded by the public so that City Council can move forward.”

John Davenport further explained that his company has been working closely with N.C. DOT to make sure they approve of any more work that needs to be done on the project itself before taking it to City Council for approval.

The downtown study will proceed as soon as the Business 40 project is completed, which is scheduled to begin in 2016. According to a news release from N.C. DOT on Oct. 6, 2014, the Business 40 Improvement Project will overhaul U.S. 421/Business 40 from west of Fourth Street to east of Church Street in downtown Winston-Salem. This includes removing and replacing the pavement, replacing 10 bridges and improving ramps for more efficient traffic flow. This project is to last for two years.

Connie James, deputy director of transportation, presented a slideshow that gave more details about the Business 40 project.

“What the consultant has looked at in the traffic models, the capacity that’s going to be necessary during the closure of Business 40 is not conducive to the two-way movements because of signal timing issues,” James said. “So this would be something the two-way conversions would happen after the project’s complete.”

A public survey was conducted by Davenport in which 630 respondents gave their feedback about the downtown street study. The public is in favor of converting Main and Liberty streets to two-way traffic. They would also like to see First and Second streets converted to two-way, better pedestrian accommodations and street improvements on these main roads as well as more parking spots.

“At the end of the day, we want more tourists to drive to Winston in a way that they would have a feel of the downtown area,” said Frank Amenya, project manager. “We also want to have pedestrians feel safe walking downtown and those who ride bikes to also feel safe.”

Amenya also spoke of making accommodations to curb people speeding through downtown and making more parking available for tourists without conflicting with business parking.

“Bottom line is that we need to improve downtown and how we get in and out of downtown,” said Walt Kinsey, resident and business owner. “It takes people from all walks of life having an emphasis to see it move forward. There’s a need for people who’re interested in the change and who will speak up for the change. Not just any change, but something that will be beneficial to the community.”

Council Member Jeff Macintosh of the Northwest Ward was excited about the study while giving details about traffic calming and safety.
“I lived in this neighborhood for over 10 years and did a bunch of restoration work,” Macintosh said. “Post construction, making the two-way traffic conversion will feel more residential and feel less like a highway. It will feel more like a neighborhood street, so it’s positive for people who want to walk to get to downtown.”

Macintosh relayed that the downtown project is expected to begin late 2017, early 2018. In spite of the traffic detours and delays that’s ahead, he feels it’ll be worth it in the long run.

The next formal presentation is scheduled for Thursday, July 9, at the Old Salem Visitors Center. Afterward, the project will be submitted for City Council’s approval in the fall.

To find out more about the Downtown Study, go to For more information about the Business 40 project, go to

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