Work continues on the future on-ramp from Main Street to eastbound Business 40 on Tuesday.

Today we get Main Street back.

Just in time for the Labor Day weekend — and in time to soothe some frayed nerves, perhaps — the section of Business 40 between U.S. 52 and South Main Street is scheduled to re-open to traffic. This one small step is cause for celebration as a little bit more of a major city thoroughfare becomes navigable. We’re past the halfway mark of the total Business 40 renovation project — currently scheduled for completion as early as spring 2020 — and we hope the rest feels like downhill cruising.

The South Main exit is just a hop, skip and jump away from the Arts District, the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, the Stevens Center, the Central Library and many good restaurants. The return of that option will, we hope, bring with it some of the commerce that began to lag when Business 40 first closed. Our downtown is vibrant, with a wide variety of entertainment and commercial options, and we expect an uptick in activity as it gets easier and easier to reach them again.

Crews are scheduled to open this sectionfor traffic about 5 a.m. Drivers shouldn’t feel discouraged if it’s crowded today, though. A lot of traffic is expected as commuters are joined by curious drivers, Larry Shaver, the senior assistant resident engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County, told the Journal.

“This is brand new for everyone, and everyone is going to go see it,” Shaver said. “With the morning rush-hour traffic, I expect there to be some congestion. Everyone is going to want to come and see the new route. You’ll get a chance to see the new retaining walls. It is definitely worth coming to take a look at.”

The actual roadway from U.S. 52 to South Main will consist of one lane both ways for now. Drivers entering the city from points east will be able to continue past U.S. 52 and take the ramp to South Main.

Leaving downtown via South Main will be a little trickier — but who wants to leave?

For those who must, driving south on Liberty Street, with a left onto Cemetery Drive then left onto South Main, should allow passage.

From there, drivers can access U.S. 52, but traffic on U.S. 52 won’t yet be able to access the new stretch to South Main.

“We didn’t want to add to the congestion by opening U.S. 52 South to Business 40 West, and we’re keeping the loop closed to westbound Business 40 (from U.S. 52 north),” Shaver said. “We didn’t want to put all that traffic into downtown because it is just a ramp.”

But we’re still, one step at a time, making our way to what will be our new norm, the Salem Parkway, a premiere gateway to the City of Arts and Innovation.

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