Driving around Winston-Salem got a whole lot easier this weekend with the opening of Salem Parkway, what used to be called Business 40, through the city.

When construction started, Business 40 was expected to be closed for up to two years. However, it’s reopening as Salem Parkway after only being closed for 14 months, which is major accomplishment in itself.

The road is open to traffic, but construction won’t be completed for several months, with lane closures along parts of Salem Parkway mainly at night when there is less traffic, according to North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Resident Engineer Larry Shaver. He said, “There is still work to do before the entire project is completed. Some of that work will require nighttime lane closures when overnight traffic volumes are minimal. We are excited that we can open Salem Parkway earlier than expected.”

NCDOT Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey said, “Never in the history of our state has a section of freeway been closed in both directions at the same time for reconstruction.”

The reason for the complete closure of Business 40/Salem Parkway was public opinion. Ivey said that the public overwhelming favored complete closure for two years versus partial closure for six years while the construction took place.

Gov. Roy Cooper said, “This is great news for Winston-Salem businesses, families and commuters, and I appreciate the tireless work of our Department of Transportation officials to complete construction as quickly as possible and ahead of schedule.”

Flatiron Constructors-Blythe Development was in charge of the project and hired 41 contractors and subcontractors employing a total of nearly 600 workers to get the construction completed nearly six months ahead of schedule.

Ivey said, “We thank everyone who provided input to make this a hallmark project for our state and a beautiful new entrance into Winston-Salem.