To paraphrase the great Ernest Hemingway, how did the highway reopen?
Gradually and then suddenly.
On Friday, highway officials announced that Salem Parkway — or Business 40, if you’re a traditionalist — would reopen either sometime this weekend or by this morning, depending on the weather. As we write this on Friday, we trust this won’t be a “Dewey defeats Truman” moment, but by this time, thousands of city residents and commuters will have taken a joyride on our brand-spanking-new mid-town thruway.
In addition, all of the vehicular bridges that were closed — Marshall and Cherry streets, High Street from Brookstown Avenue to Marshall Street and the Brookstown underpass — should be open now, too, restoring lost or strained connections.
And we couldn’t be happier about the restoration. With everything in place, traffic will flow more easily, commute times will be shortened and residential neighborhoods will be safer, freed from long lines of cars taking twisty detours.
The parkway will also be significantly safer than it was before, with broader lanes and fewer on-off ramps.
This should be a boon especially to the downtown business, arts and restaurant districts, which were under strain from the reduced commerce that accompanied the highway closing. It was tough, and some didn’t make it. Now it’s over.
Of course, the business recovery won’t be immediate or easy, after residents have become comfortable with alternate habits. Business owners, many of whom have already struggled with the highway closing, will likely have to dig down deep to lure customers back.
The rest of us can help by making use of these reopened routes.
These businesses deserve to succeed. Downtown Winston-Salem is a destination, with a wide variety of entertainment and recreation options.
It’s been a long haul since Nov. 17, 2018, when the highway was first closed. Thanks to the hard work of construction crews, who put in a lot of overtime hours, encouraged by financial incentives, the project cut its original two-year schedule considerably. We’re grateful to everyone involved.
There are still some details to finish: two pedestrian bridges are still under construction, as are noise walls. The final “T” won’t be crossed until sometime this summer.
But we can drive on it.
Kudos to everyone who had the patience to endure the highway’s closing, who controlled their road rage, learned new routes and kindly waved passage to their fellow drivers while waiting for this day. We made it.