Imagine commuting, stress-free with no traffic. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it’s becoming a reality. The NC Department of Transportation is in the process of building a multi-lane freeway that loops around the northern part of Winston-Salem.
The Winston-Salem Northern Beltway will serve to reduce traffic on roads such as Silas Creek Parkway, Country Club, Robinhood, and Reynolda Road and allow commuters to get on major roads like US 421.
The 34.5-mile loop will begin at US 158 southwest of Winston-Salem and end at I-74 southeast of the city. If you’re wondering what’s going on with those highway constructions, we’ve got some answers for you. WStoday sat down with Pat Ivey, Highway Division 9 engineer, to get an update on the $1.74 billion project — here’s what he said:
What is the current status of the I-74 beltway?
From US 52 all the way down to I-74 going toward High Point, all of that is either under construction or open to traffic now. So the next piece that will be open will be:
- US 52 interchange — will open partially to traffic before Thanksgiving; full interchange will be completed next fall, probably in August 2024
- US 421 down to I-74 — currently under construction at I-40, will be open by the end of 2026
- US 52 — needs an upgrade to interstate standards. Those projects have not been funded yet — all that should be completed by the end of 2026.
Why start this project?
Back in the late 1990s, we actually started construction, and we had a lawsuit filed on that project, which basically stopped everything for about 10 years while we went through to resolve the lawsuit with the Beltway. In 2008, we had another sort of a financial crash nationwide, which reduced available funding, so the Beltway had to be delayed even further. COVID, of course, slowed us down again, but we are glad that at least the eastern section is fully funded.
What do you envision once this project is completed?
The rationale for the Beltway to begin with is really to help people get around the Winston-Salem corridor around Forsyth County much better to reduce congestion on some of our major roadways, especially roads like US 52. Obviously, like all major roadways do, they have the side benefit of spurring economic development. We certainly expect that that will happen to some degree with the Beltway.
Any challenges you are currently facing in the middle of this project?
The cost increases have been significant, particularly on the eastern side of the loop. The delays have contributed to the increase in cost because obviously over time things do get more expensive. We’ve [also] got about a 20% vacancy rate statewide.
Interested in applying and being part of the Northern Beltway construction? Apply on the government website and sort positions by county.