Hours after Business 40 reopened as Salem Parkway on Sunday morning, traffic moved smoothly on the new road, though some motorists were doing more than just passing through.
They were checking out some of the road’s new features.
“The guys out in the field said traffic was heavier than normal as people are riding through looking at the new things there are to see,” said Larry Shaver, the resident engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
That includes a new archway, new bridges and brick veneer along some of the exit ramps.
Crews began near U.S. 52 and opened the eastbound lanes exit-by-exit early Sunday. Before 4:30 a.m., eastbound lanes were open. Westbound lanes were open by 6 a.m.
The reopening comes about 14-and-a-half months after Business 40 closed on Nov. 17, 2018, for a remake that includes longer ramps, higher bridge clearances and, possibly, a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit once engineers decide whether the road can handle it.
Traffic is expected to increase Monday with the return of commuters headed to work.
“We’re expecting them in the morning but maybe not all of them,” Shaver said. “We ask everyone to stay alert. There’s a lot of new things to look at.”
Exits were eliminated at Broad Street and Liberty Street, so some commuters may be testing new routes.
Mayor Allen Joines was among the drivers checking out the reopened road on Sunday.
“It’s a wonderful front door for the city with the arches and brick work,” Joines said. “The roadway has changed quite a bit. And it’s quite safer.”
Driving eastbound, Joines said he got off at the Cherry Street exit, which allows drivers to reach businesses south of the parkway. A few businesses in that area said they lost money while the road closed because it was difficult for potential customers to reach them.
“It felt good to get off at Cherry Street and support those businesses south of the parkway. And I hope folks will do that,” he said.
Although the highway has reopened, it is not finished.
Much remains to be done, but that work consists of things than can be carried out while traffic moves, or in some cases, with nighttime lane closures.
Major aspects of the project that remain under construction include two pedestrian bridges: One, connecting to Green Street, will be a suspension bridge with arches. It crosses Salem Parkway near BB&T Ballpark.
For now, the Green Street bridge is supported by temporary pillars that are separated from the travel lanes by concrete barriers.
The other pedestrian bridge will be a so-called land bridge, one designed to incorporate plants and giving walkers a chance to cross the freeway in a more natural setting. That bridge crosses near Liberty Street and connects two portions of the Strollway that were disconnected during construction.
Another major component is the multi-use path that will run alongside Business 40 and eventually connect downtown with the area around Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Along the way, that path will pass through a tunnel constructed under Peters Creek Parkway near the ballpark.
Now that it is open, the freeway has lost its Business 40 designation. It keeps the U.S. 421 designation, meaning that motorists who travel west, toward Boone, will be on U.S. 421 north, while those going the other way, toward Greensboro, will be taking U.S. 421 south.
State highway and city officials announced the reopening on Friday at a news conference at BB&T Ballpark.
Later that evening, workers removed barricades and opened first the Cherry Street bridge and then Brookstown Avenue where it crosses under Salem Parkway.
Also opening was High Street as it runs between Brookstown Avenue and Marshall Street.
The Marshall Street bridge did not open Friday because rain kept workers from putting down the last white pavement markings needed to reopen the crossing. That work was finished on Saturday and the bridge opened.
Local officials gave credit to highway officials and contractors Flatiron Constructors Inc. and Blythe Development Co. for bringing in the project ahead of schedule.
The state originally conceived of the project as taking two years to complete, but the contractors promised a 20-month shutdown when they got the job.
Later, the time of closure was shortened even more, to 17 months, with incentives to do the work faster. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines caused a stir when he told a local television station that the road could reopen around this past Christmas.
While that didn’t happen, highway officials were saying that the year 2020 would not get too far advanced before the reopening.
Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation here, said the project marked the first time in the state’s history that a section of freeway was shut down in both directions at the same time.
Asked early on, residents overwhelmingly chose to have the road completely shut down for two years, instead of keeping the highway open and stretching construction over six years.
The splitting of Forsyth County into two congressional districts means its suburban communities will have a new representative for the first time since 2005.
Although Clemmons, Lewisville and Rural Hall residents of Forsyth will have a new incumbent in Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, it will not be at a loss for experience since he is running for his ninth term.
The redrawn 10th congressional district features all of Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties for the Triad, as well as most of Iredell and all of Catawba and Lincoln counties.
The newness of the redrawn district could chip away at some of the inherent advantages of incumbency since none of the four candidates for the seat have much, if any, local name recognition.
That’s a primary reason why McHenry has drawn two Republican challengers in David Johnson of Statesville and Ralf Walters of Winston-Salem.
David Parker is the only Democratic candidate for the 10th seat.
Even though the 10th has undergone a drastic change from its current configuration centered on seven western N.C. counties, political analysts say it remains a solidly Republican district, which includes suburban Forsyth.
There have been concerns that a Forsyth constituent base accustomed to frequent appearances and assistance from GOP U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx may draw less attention from future 6th and 10th District congressional members.
The 2020 congressional district map has Forsyth shifting from being the dominant population base (47.81%) in the 5th District to 14.39% of the 10th’s population base, trailing Iredell (21.47%) and Catawba (18.96%) among the eight counties. It would be the only urban section of the district.
In fact, the 10th’s portion of Forsyth would not be much larger than Rockingham (12.77%) and Surry (10.04%).
McHenry has said that “in the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to getting reacquainted with old friends throughout Iredell County, while also getting to know the people of Forsyth, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.”
“While the changed 10th District includes new territory, I have quickly learned that the voters share the same set of values that my current constituents and I do.
“Over the next year, I look forward to making the case why I’m the best person to serve as the 10th District’s conservative voice in Washington.”
McHenry said his top priorities for the 2020 campaign are “the same as it has always been: to continue fighting for my constituents. “
“From cutting taxes, protecting our border, fighting the opioid epidemic and supporting our troops, I will continue to support legislation that will improve the lives of families here in the 10th District.
“We have seen the positive results of President Trump’s economic and trade policies, and I look forward to continuing to work with the president to keep creating jobs and our economy booming.”
If elected, Walters would be the first Winston-Salem resident to serve in the U.S. House since Richard Burr was the 5th District representative from 1995 to 2005.
On his campaign website, Walters lists among his political experiences serving as Forsyth GOP communications director in 2012 and a county appointee to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Management Council from 2015 to 2018.
Walters is trying to position himself to the right of McHenry on social and political issues, such as gun rights, along with supporting Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’ stance on immigration in his bid for the Republican governor’s nomination.
Walters said that “the framers brilliantly limited the House of Representatives to two-year terms.”
“They believed turnover would bring new representatives having pressing concerns and fresh ideas from the heartland. Growing up and growing old in Washington wasn’t a good idea then and isn’t now.
“Thanks to career incumbents, Congress’ approval rating is at a pathetic all-time low,” Walters wrote. “Instead of acting as public servants, voters see elected officials serving themselves. “
Walters lists on his website his priorities as “America First,” as well as term limits and boilerplate Republican planks such as strong defense, secure borders, limited government, reduce federal deficit, protect Social Security, pro-business and “pro-family for a strong nation.”
Johnson could not be reached for comment on his decision to run. He does not appear to have a campaign website.
Endia Beal, who returned to her hometown in 2015 and became director of Diggs Gallery on the Winston-Salem State University campus, stepped down on Friday. She also resigned as assistant professor of art.
“You get to a place where you have done all you can,” Beal said. “This past summer, we got an award from HBCU Digest that makes me feel like I’m leaving on a championship.”
HBCU Digest, the online magazine of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, named Diggs the Best Fine Arts Program in the nation in 2019. The gallery is one of the largest for African and African American art in the Southeast.
Darryl Scriven is dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education, which oversees the Diggs.
“This definitely will be a tremendous loss for us,” Scriven said. “She’s done a great job for us directing the gallery, and so her presence will be missed. But she has a calling as an artist and a maker, and so she wants to follow that calling, and we support her in that.”
Scriven said that his department in consultation with the provost’s office will do a national search for a gallery director.
“We’re looking for someone who has the kind of artistic experience that she had as well as gallery experience,” he said. “I hope we can find someone who can maybe teach a class and bring the kind of energy that she brought in the gallery space.”
“I want to continue my work as a maker,” Beal said. “And I have my first book coming out, ‘Performance Review,’ that encompasses work from 2012 to now, and I will be pushing that.”
“Performance Review,” which includes a series of photographs of women of color in office settings called “Am I What You’re Looking For?” is being published by Minor Matters in Seattle.
“I’ll continue public speaking across the country and making new work and taking the practice to the next level,” she said.
Beal, 35, is an artist known internationally for her photography and videography. She studied large-format photography with Jeff Whetstone at UNC-Chapel Hill and has a master’s degree in fine arts from Yale University School of Art (2013).
She is married to Alain Lamarque, a lawyer, and they have two sons, Maxim, 2, and Victor, 7 months.
In 2017, the Journal’s visual art critic Tom Patterson, exhorted his readers, “Don’t miss it,” referring to “Do You See Me?,” a show that Beal curated at the Diggs.
“It was my first time, putting that show together, that really impacted the students,” she said. “And we had the largest attendance by students in the gallery’s history.
“I’m really proud that it turned out to be an incubator for emerging artists of color and that we showed these artists early on in their careers. John Edmunds was part of the Whitney Biennial last year. Jordan Casteel is a rock star in the art world, and Terence Nance has an HBO series.”
Nance’s series is called “Random Acts of Flyness.”
A pair of shows in 2018 also brought national attention to the Diggs. “Truth Be Told,” curated by Beal, and “Race, Love, and Labor,” a collection of works by former artists-in-residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, N.Y., both dealt with issues of identity, representation, history and social hierarchy.
Both exhibitions were part of a campaign by the For Freedoms 50 States Initiative, an artists’ platform for civic engagement, discourse and direct action.
“It was a nationwide event to talk about art and social justice,” Beal said. “And it showed how art can lay the groundwork for social justice work.”