The Main Street bridge over Business 40 is demolished on Nov. 20, 2018.

Workers on the Business 40 renovation project opened a new bridge over Main Street last week, providing another connection between downtown and neighborhoods south. By now, the Cherry Street bridge should be closed in preparation for its replacement. And by the end of the week, the new Church Street bridge should be open, the Journal’s Wesley Young reported last week.

Later in the month, the new Liberty Street bridge will open and the Marshall Street bridge will close for replacement.

This all follows the successful replacement of the Broad Street bridge in March.

These changes are a concrete (no pun intended) sign of the speed and smoothness with which the Business 40 project is progressing. One bridge at a time, the project is being completed.

Of course, work is being done on Business 40 itself, also, especially on the section between Main Street and U.S. 52. When it is completed, drivers will be able to get onto the eastern portion of Business 40 from Main Street — and off of the eastern portion of Business 40 to Main Street. That will eliminate a lot of the out-of-the-way detouring residents and commuters have had to pursue.

The completion date for that section of the project is in sight, Larry Shaver, the senior assistant resident engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation here, told the Journal last week. “Right now, the tentative schedule is mid-June to open the ramps back to-ward U.S. 52,” Shaver said. “Right now, the focus is on the bridges, getting people back and forth.”

Every little bit helps, especially for the downtown business community, which has been inconvenienced by the lack of regular access to its amenities and entertainments. We urge everyone to hang on — and we urge patrons of our exciting downtown to continue supporting our city center’s success.

We knew this would be a painful process when Business 40 closed in 2018. But now, the completion date on the contractors’ timetable, April 2020, doesn’t seem that far away — especially since “it could be a couple months prior to that,” according to Shaver.

“Everything we have done so far has been ahead of schedule, and we like to think we are staying on that path,” Shaver said.

We like to think so, too. Who could have guessed that we’d miss a highway so much?

But the new, completed Salem Parkway, with longer, safer entrance and exit ramps and solid, sophisticated new bridges, will be worth the wait.

By now most of us, residents and commuters, should have adjusted to new traffic patterns and lengthier driving times. But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be snags.

Hang in there. Breathe deeply. Picture that shiny new highway.

It won’t be long now.

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