Greensboro, NC - Your ride to the airport is going to get much shorter. The Department of Transportation will open the western portion of the Greensboro Urban Loop on Tuesday.
The western portion Urban Loop, more commonly known as Painter Boulevard, runs from Bryan Boulevard to Interstate 40. It's a continuation of the Greensboro Urban Loop.
The first section, the 3-mile I-840 connector between US-70 and I-40/85 in east Greensboro opened in 2002. In February 2004, the south-eastern section of the road containing the I-85 bypass opened to drivers.
The DOT designed this portion of the loop for two major reasons. One to ease traffic near the airport. The other is to give drivers in Northwest Greensboro a more direct route across town.
The DOT estimates this three-mile stretch of road will shave 15 to 20 minutes off your drive time. It has three main exits to get people on and off, fast.
"There will be an interchange at Interstate 40, and interchange at Friendly Avenue and everybody will have to exit Bryan Boulevard if you're traveling North," said Darrell Ferguson, the engineer overseeing the project.
"This ought to ease traffic on NC-68 and should ease some traffic on Guilford College Road," said Ferguson. "The people who live out in the Northwest section of the city or even in Northwest Guilford County don't really have a good way to get to I-40. This will give them another option."
Early DOT projections estimate more than 46,000 drivers will travel this section every day. By 2022 that number will nearly double to more than 72,000.
"As people learn that it's open and learn what it will do for them it will become heavily traveled, especially when the next section on 40/85 opens up," said Ferguson.
This is only this first phase of the western loop section to open. The second phase will connect drivers from I-40 to I-85 near Grandover...completely opening the southern section of the loop and completing the I-40 bypass around Greensboro. That part is expected to open in early 2008.
The western portions of the Urban Loop cost $101 million to build. Crews began working on it in 2003. The northern and remaining eastern portions of the Greensboro Urban Loop were supposed to start soon afterward. That construction is delayed due to lack of money.
The funding for next section of the loop between US-70 and US-29 has been delayed by the state until 2013 according to NCDOT's Transportation Improvement Program.
For now, this new western section is expected to open Tuesday, December 18th at 10am. You can see more of it right now online. Click on the video on the right to take a virtual tour.
WFMY News 2