The N.C. Department of Transportation on Thursday awarded a contract to build three additional segments of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway, bringing another seven miles of beltway closer to reality.
Flatiron Constructors, one of the companies involved in the Business 40 upgrade project here, won the $120 million contract to design and build the three sections of beltway from New Walkertown Road to University Parkway.
Officials said the newest beltway sections to go to contract should be finished by July of 2022.
Meanwhile, Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County, said that the contract for the building of the interchange for the beltway and U.S. 52 on the north side of town should be awarded in July.
In other words, a completed freeway from U.S. 52 to Business 40 on the eastern side of Winston-Salem is in sight.
“Dang, that is cool,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said Thursday afternoon when he heard the news.
Then, wanting to sound a bit more official about it, Joines said that the awarding of the contract is “wonderful news for our community.”
“It is extraordinarily important for our community to be able to open up development opportunities as well as to alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. 52,” Joines said.
Substantial construction work has already been done on the first beltway segment, from Business 40 to Reidsville Road. Work is already beginning on a second segment from Reidsville Road to New Walkertown Road.
Officials said work could begin on the three newest sections as early as April 30, although it will likely be six to nine months before there’s much to see in the way of work. Contractors will be doing design work, utility work and permitting in the earliest stages of the contract.
When finished, the beltway will be a 34-mile semicircle around the northern side of Winston-Salem.
The eastern leg of the beltway will be signed as Interstate 74 and link with existing and planned sections of that interstate highway.
Starting from an interchange at New Walkertown Road just south of Williston Road, the newest beltway section to go to contract will head northwest, crossing Old Walkertown, Dippen and Davis roads, which will not have interchanges.
The new freeway then passes through an interchange at Baux Mountain Road just north of Mill Creek, proceeding northwest to cross Old Hollow Road.
Old Hollow Road will not have an interchange, and in fact will require realignment where it crosses the beltway just east of the Old Rural Hall Road intersection.
The freeway next passes through an interchange with Germanton Road, crossing Stanleyville Road with no interchange before heading into the University Parkway interchange, which will lie to the north of the intersection of University Parkway and Old Hollow Road.
Ivey said that this summer, the state will be working hard on acquiring right of way for the sections of the beltway that are planned from Business 40 to the existing I-74/U.S. 311 freeway that connects Winston-Salem and High Point. Those beltway segments are currently scheduled to begin construction in 2020.
“That will be all of I-74,” Ivey said. “If you look at where we have been over the last four years, we are very excited that we are truly moving forward with the beltway segments, especially with the I-74 side. And of course, once we get through with the I-74 segment, we will be equally excited to get to work on the western side as well.”
Before the projects can be fully under construction, the state will have to settle condemnation controversies between landowners and the state over losses the property owners claim for being designated in the path of the beltway in 2008 by the Map Act.
In those cases, the courts have said that the state must begin the process of compensating landowners after years of wrangling between the sides. Ivey said Thursday that “based on everything we know we can work through” the condemnations and keep the project on track.
Matthew Bryant, an attorney representing more than 200 landowners in Map Act cases against the state, said the landowners have a good relationship with the state highway officials “on the ground,” and that they stand ready to deal.
“Our owners have no beef with the roadway and simply want to be paid fairly and what the courts say they are due,” Bryant said. “This town has waited a long time for some new roads, and everyone should be glad the wait is over.”