Piedmont Triad - The North Carolina Department of Transportation has specified a number of major Triad road construction projects, both under construction already or in development, that could pose significant traffic problems to drivers commuting this summer.
Three of those projects already increasing traffic and disrupting normal routes are underway in Forsyth County. These projects are deemed "high intensity" by NCDOT because they will affect thousands of drivers on the project roadways every day.
One of those construction zones in Kernersville, at the intersection of Union Cross Road and I-40, is a $30 million project that is expected to take three years to complete. It will widen Union Cross Road by about four miles and add what will be the area's first diamond interchange at I-40. NCDOT said it expects the modifications to these roadways will ease traffic flow and minimize congestion when accidents occur.
Both lanes of the I-40 exit onto Union Cross Road will be closed at some point Wednesday morning as crews begin setting concrete girders for the interchange. Drivers will be directed up the exit ramp and back down onto the highway.
Two other high-intensity projects currently are under construction in Forsyth County. There is a project to replace the U.S. 52 north and south bridges over Liberty Street and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Switching Yard. Additionally, a U.S. 52 improvement project is underway to streamline and repair that interstate from Business 40 to Akron Drive.
Guilford County does not have any high intensity projects underway, but NCDOT indicates several projects are "in development," or have been planned but do not necessarily have all funding in order to facilitate the start of construction.
In Guilford County, plans are in place to create a Greensboro Urban Loop at I-785 and I-840 and improve Macy Grove Road to provide additional carrying capacity between I-40 Business and areas north of Kernersville.
Major construction also is underway Wednesday morning in Surry County, as crews are blasting part of N.C. 89 between Low Gap and the Virginia State Line. While crews remove debris, there will be a 40-mile detour around the project for Wednesday and Thursday. Heading west from Low Gap, motorists will be detoured east on N.C. 89 to I-77 N into Virginia. They then will take Exit 14 onto U.S. 221/58 toward Galax, Va. and then head south on VA 89 into North Carolina. Southbound traffic will reverse directions.
The premise for the $1.6 million project is a very dangerous quarter-mile curve on the highway, which is the area's main route.
The NCOT assistant district engineer for the project, Todd Surlin, said "We've had a lot of accidents (at that curve) in the past. A lot of fatalities in that area. In the future, when we get it completed, we'll have 12-foot lanes with four-foot paved shoulders, so you'll have 32 feet of pavement and an eight-foot grass shoulder, so it'll be a lot wider and safer."
Construction is expected to last until November, but cars will be able to drive through the area after the detour is lifted at 5 p.m. Thursday. The curve will be widened and rounded, according to Surlin, but not removed.
Surlin issued advice for drivers passing through construction zones this summer. "The main thing is to just slow down. Speed really does play a major factor in accidents inside work zones. If motorists would just slow down and pay close attention to our signage prior to getting into the work zones, usually we have pretty good success as far as accidents go."