Well, we got our hopes up, but it was a long shot. Business 40 — or Salem Parkway, as it will one day be called — won’t reopen in time for Christmas after all. Or New Year’s Day.
“I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t open by the end of the year,” Pat Ivey, the local division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, told the Journal’s Wesley Young last week. He may as well have been announcing that Santa Claus was not … punctual.
But we’re still so much closer than we once were. We’ll get there one day, one mile at a time.
Ivey hadn’t promised the city a rose garden in the first place. When he spoke to the Journal in November, he made it clear that a lot depended on the weather. Not only did the construction site need to be free of rain, but the temperature had to remain above 50 degrees for workers to put down asphalt.
Not every day has qualified.
There were also some unexpected work conditions. “When we were working on High Street, the existing sewer line was higher than we thought it was,” N.C. DOT resident engineer Larry Shaver told the Journal. “We had to make some adjustments to the sewer line. Part of the sewer line went under Brookstown, so there was a section of Brookstown we couldn’t pave,” he said.
“I don’t know that we were ever on board to say we were going to open it by the end of the year,” Shaver said. “All the stars would have had to line up perfectly to finish by the end of the year. Doing it by the end of the year means we would have completed it in 13 months.”
It’s just it was so close that we could smell the asphalt.
We can’t be blamed for being eager, though. Life has been more difficult without what is a main thoroughfare for residents and a seminal short-cut for commuters. Many drivers have nearly drained their reservoirs of patience as they weave this way and that to get from here to there.
Worse, businesses both downtown and adjacent to and near the highway have suffered from the reluctance of drivers to work their way through obstructions. That’s no laughing matter. The Tavern in Old Salem, a landmark Winston-Salem restaurant, recently an-nounced its closing at the end of the year. The decision was made at least in part because of the Business 40 construction work. We’re sorry to see it go.
Projections and predictions have varied since before the work began on Nov. 17, 2018. Estimates have ranged from 14 to 20 months.
Of course, the workers haven’t been sitting still all this time. Those following the construction have seen constant progress, like at the end of August, when the section of Business 40 between U.S. 52 and South Main Street was reopened.
And now it continues. Construction began last week on the arches that will rise above the new Green Street pedestrian bridge, one of several bridges that are being revamped to match the new Salem Parkway. One step, one mile at a time.
So when will Business 40 be opened? For real?
Magic 8 Ball says …