City voters approved exciting new public facility investments this month. First, here are updates on the Business 40 closure and on holiday sanitation collection changes.
Business 40 closure notice: The Business 40 closure area is scheduled to temporarily extend west to the Cloverdale Avenue interchange this weekend (Dec. 1 and 2) while crews take down some remaining parts of the old Fourth Street bridge. (That bridge is one of those scheduled for replacement as part of the highway’s makeover.) The section of Business 40 between Cloverdale and Peters Creek Parkway is scheduled to be closed from 5 a.m. Dec. 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 2. Updates on the highway work should normally be available at www.business40nc.com .
As the work progresses, I encourage residents to consider taking transit as one of your alternatives for getting to and from downtown: Expanded service options between central Winston-Salem and surrounding communities are in place now. See https://www.partnc.org/150/Business-40-Resources for details. Within Winston-Salem, the city transit agency WSTA has enhanced service available now on multiple routes, including 80, 85, 103, and 107, all of which serve parts of the Southwest Ward. https://wstransit.com/business-40-closing-options/ If you try it and have comments, please let me know. Thanks.
Holiday collection changes this month: Public holidays will result in changed sanitation collection schedules twice this month: the week of December 24 (Christmas week), and the week of December 31 (New Year’s week). The details for changes each week can be found here: http://www.cityofws.org/departments/sanitation/holiday-schedule
Voters approve new city bond investments: With strong voter approval across most of the city, Winston-Salem will see exciting new public facility investments getting underway in 2019. On November 6, Winston-Salem voters approved each of the five important city bond issues on the ballot this year: streets and sidewalks, public safety, parks and recreation, housing, and economic development.
Several of the newly approved projects will be of particular interest to many Southwest Ward residents. There are three greenway projects that directly touch the Southwest Ward:
--Little Creek Greenway extension: The existing greenway already connects three neighborhoods to each other, the Little Creek Park and Recreation Center, and shopping/restaurants/residences adjoining Hanes Mall Boulevard. In this phase, it will be extended south to Somerset Drive.
--Salem Creek Greenway pedestrian sidepath: This connector will run alongside Peters Creek Parkway and Link Road, with a signalized pedestrian crossing at their intersection. It will provide a safe pedestrian and cycling route from the southeastern corner of the Ardmore neighborhood (at Lockland Avenue) to the Salem Creek Greenway’s western trailhead behind Marketplace Mall.
--Business 40/Salem Parkway Multi-use Path: The bonds include funding to complete this bike/ped pathway from Peters Creek Parkway at the BB&T/Dash ballpark west to the northeastern corner of the Ardmore neighborhood at Lockland Avenue. Previous funding commitments had already been obtained for the pathway from Peters Creek Parkway east through downtown to Liberty Street. Construction of much or all of the pathway will accompany the Business 40 work over the next 14 months.
Complete details of the newly approved investments in each of the five bond categories can be found here: https://winstonsalembonds.com/
Other transportation project updates: Anticipating your questions, I can provide a summary update on several transportation infrastructure projects which I had anticipated would be done (or at least started) this year.
--Resurfacing of Cheltenham, Lockwood, and S. Cliffdale streets: City transportation department staff, without city council guidance, made repaving scheduling decisions that did not in several cases (including these) reflect the input they had received from city council members regarding timing priorities. I have addressed this problem with the city manager’s office and expect each of those streets to be resurfaced in spring of 2019.
--Griffith Road sidewalk: This project had been included on the target list of sidewalk projects for the 2014 bonds. Unfortunately, the length of the proposed project bumped it into the cost category which needed matching funds to complete. That was a competitive process and matching funds weren’t obtained until early this year. After that, I had anticipated that the project bidding/design process would have started months ago, and was not pleased that it did not. Again, I have addressed the problem with the city manager’s office and have the specific commitment that the project will be bid for engineering design (or better, for design/build, with state approval) in January. Due to the extensive red tape surrounding use of federal/state matching funds, the best-case scenario at this point is construction beginning spring 2020.
--Pedestrian crossing safety improvements at Miller Street/Silas Creek Parkway intersection: This was among several pedestrian safety projects which were to have been completed this year. The city manager’s office has committed to a schedule of completing this project by June 2019.
In trying to learn from which projects on the 2014 bond list were completed on time and which experienced unsatisfactory delays, for the 2018 bond project list I requested fewer projects, each of which would be built exclusively with city funds. It’s been clear that under existing federal/state oversight processes, matching funds come with extremely long project delays in most cases.
Bird scooters grounded temporarily: The Bird company rental electric scooters were dropped off in Winston-Salem with no advance notice to or approvals from the city in August of this year. The city of Winston-Salem tries to encourage innovation, and our initial decision was to monitor the scooters while we worked on a regulatory plan. Unfortunately, the Bird company distributed about ten times the number of scooters they initially said they were planning to put out (about 1,200 instead of 100 to 150), and they were unable to successfully monitor their use and prevent problems. Over the past month or so, the city received a rapidly growing number of complaints regarding unsafe operation of the scooters on sidewalks, after dark, in intersections, and through heavy traffic. To stop the spread of accidents, the city mandated the removal of the Birds from city streets and enforced that directive. We’re working now on plans to require a more orderly rollout and safer regulations of this newly popular technology. The city’s Public Works Committee is scheduled to receive a draft of new regulations at our January meeting (Tuesday, January 15, at 6 p.m. at City Hall). City council members and city staff are in the process of consulting with colleagues in other cities and states about how they are addressing these problems, and I hope that we will be able to incorporate best practices from other cities in our planning. Optimistically, one or more shared scooter rental companies could be operating in the city again by late spring or summer. However, we’re not going to be rushed into disregarding real public safety concerns. This is a new technology which needs to shake out its operational bugs if it’s going to be of long-term public value.
That’s my report for November. Happy holidays to all! As always, you are welcome to contact me with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!