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Partnering for Innovation
US 421/I-40 Business in Winston-Salem

2. Project Details

2.1. Project Overview

The I-40 Business/US 421 corridor is vital to the Winston-Salem area, serving as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the historic downtown area; an artery that links higher education facilities such as Wake Forest University, Salem College and Winston-Salem State University; and a primary factor in the development of the Piedmont Triad Research Park. While most agree that I-40 Business is in dire need of repair and modernization, there is great concern over potential disruptions to the citizenry and the business community that rely on this corridor on a daily basis.

2.2. Project History and Development

Winston-Salem's East-West Expressway opened in 1958. The roadway has undergone two name changes, becoming I-40 and then I-40 Business when the "new" I-40 south of Winston-Salem opened in 1992.

In 1992, rehabilitation of I-40 Business from US 421 to Linville Road began. The project under discussion at the ACTT workshop is the section of US 421/I-40 Business from west of Fourth Street to east of Church Street that is still in need of major rehabilitation.

Originally, NCDOT envisioned the US 421/I-40 Business in Winston-Salem project as a pavement rehabilitation effort. However, as the project evolved, NCDOT realized that minor rehabilitation would not address the safety and mobility improvements needed throughout the corridor. Thus, NCDOT incorporated design improvements into the project scope.

2.3. Project Purpose

The purpose of the project is to improve safety and address roadway deficiencies on US 421/I-40 Business from west of Fourth Street to east of Church Street.

Numerous bridges throughout the project corridor have substandard design features, including horizontal and vertical alignment issues and ramp configurations, that do not meet AASHTO recommendations - and that contribute to the congestion and high accident rates experienced at several locations within the project limits. What's more, NCDOT expects that driving conditions will continue to deteriorate as traffic volumes rise.

Picture 1: Broad Street Bridge over US 421
The Broad Street Bridge over US 421 is just one of the many structures needing rehabilitation. The construction skill set recommended replacing the Broad Street Bridge in order to improve vehicle and pedestrian capacity.

Figure 1 shows a photograph of the Broad Street Bridge Overpass.

2.4. Project Challenges

The challenges facing NCDOT are numerous. The existing concrete pavement is in poor condition and must be replaced to support an average daily traffic forecast of 92,000 vehicles per day in the year 2025. Existing structures along the corridor must be replaced, along with the majority of the overpass structures. In addition, the vertical alignment must be altered and/or non-standard superstructures employed in order to improve the vertical clearance for all structures along I-40 Business through downtown Winston-Salem.

A key challenge facing NCDOT is the narrow project corridor, which provides no room to shift traffic in order to maintain the existing lanes during construction.

Furthermore, there is an urgent need to accelerate construction and limit traffic impacts; long-term construction is undesirable, as it may affect numerous businesses, commuters, emergency responders, hospitals, educational institutions and the International Home Furnishings Market, the largest single contributor to the Piedmont Triad's economy.

Other Challenges/Issues

The skill sets identified a host of additional issues with the US 421/I-40 Business project. They include coordination with a number of local entities, including Duke Energy, Bell South, Time Warner, NCDOT ITS, Piedmont Natural Gas, the City of Winston-Salem (for water, sewer and signals/lights) and existing historic districts. Environmental agency involvement is a vital factor, as is addressing staging/lay down area requirements. NCDOT may need to consider splicing moratoriums, seasonal restrictions and budget considerations when planning the project, and an active public relations (PR) program will be key in disseminating this information.

Other challenges and issues are as follows:

  • Replacement of the lighting system - the 440-volt system is beyond maintenance.
  • Replacement of the 72-inch brick drainage culvert near Brookstown Avenue.
  • Keeping utilities in the existing space. The skill sets noted special concerns at the following locations:
    • Fourth Street Bridge. The six-inch water line attachment and four-inch plastic gas line attachment may need to be eliminated.
    • Peters Creek Parkway Bridge. Consider eliminating some sewer lines up to the ramp on the east side. This will provide space to relocate other utilities.
    • Cherry Street Bridge. Address the historic property at this location and the Duke Energy riser to the downtown underground feed.
    • Liberty Street Bridge/Area. Discuss the parking under the bridge, the Bell South conduit system, the 16-inch water main, the 18-inch sanitary sewer and the brick culvert.
    • Church Street Bridge. Look at the water line and the potential pedestrian/bike bridge at this location.
  • Conducting public involvement early to determine the need for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  • Maintaining a comprehensive partnership throughout project development and construction.
  • Enhancing the visual and aesthetic features of the corridor.
  • Considering diverse viewpoints on connectivity needs.
  • Maintaining access to important community facilities and services.
  • Projecting impacts on travelers, including pedestrians and bikers.
  • Meeting project purpose and need while limiting the potential for decreased livability.
  • Completing other projects and network improvements prior to beginning construction on the US 421/I-40 Business in Winston-Salem project.

2.5. Project Status

Project development and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance has begun, and the associated public involvement efforts will begin within the next few months. Per the 2007-2013 Draft Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), construction is slated to begin in Federal Fiscal Year 2013.

Because the project is in the early planning phase, no cost estimates are in place.

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Updated: 10/27/2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000