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Greensboro's urban loop moving ahead

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Greensboro's urban loop moving ahead

Matt Harrington

The Business Journal

Good news is expected for motorists in Guilford County, as the state's transportation department approved a $116.5 million contract to build a 7.4 mile section of the Greensboro southwestern urban loop that will run from north of Interstate 85 at Groometown Road to Wendover Avenue.

The project is part of $234.6 million in highway improvement projects in 37 counties statewide that were discussed by the transportation department's board of directors Thursday.

"It's really exciting for us," said Jim Westmoreland, director of the Greensboro Department of Transportation. "This is a project that was needed and is long overdue. What this section will do will be to relieve traffic congestion along Interstate 40."

The Western Loop, also known as Painter Boulevard, is one of three sections of the highway that eventually will go around Greensboro, providing alternate routes as well as long-term economic development opportunities, Westmoreland said.

"By the spring of 2008, you'll have nearly two-thirds of the loop constructed," he said. It will run from Bryan Boulevard to US 70. The entire loop is tentatively scheduled to be complete by 2015, he said.

By January, the section of the loop that runs from I-85 north to McLeansville should be open. "That will have some pretty dramatic transportation impacts," Westmoreland said.

All told, the entire loop will represent more than $1 billion worth of transportation investment, he said. That figure includes money the state will spend to condemn and acquire acreage along the 45-mile loop to make room for the project, forcing about 40 businesses to relocate in the process, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The project has been made possible largely by the Highway Trust Fund, which was enacted by the General Assembly. "That put the funding mechanism in place to make it happen," Westmoreland said. The plan for the loop was originally developed back in the 1950s.

"At that time, the resources from the federal and the state level weren't sufficient," he said. The schedule for completion of the entire loop could be pushed back if money in the highway trust fund continues to be tight because of the state's budget crunch, he said.

The Greensboro loop isn't the only project in the Triad up for consideration from the Department of Transportation. Alamance, Davidson, Randolph, Rockingham, Surry and Yadkin counties also had projects that were to be presented to the board.

Most of those projects were resurfacing of existing roads, including a 9.1 mile stretch of I-85 from the I-85 Business split south of Lexington to US 64 in Davidson County and 7.5 miles of I-85 from NC 109 in Davidson County to US 311 in Randolph County.

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I'm not sure whether I should offer congratulations or my condolences. :D

All kidding aside, I am in support of the southern loop--it offers a nice bypass for north-south thru traffic and reduces congestion closer to the core of greensboro.

Though sprawl is not particularly a good thing, it is going to happen no matter what. By having the loop there on the southern and southwestern part of Greensboro, more economic development might occur there, which in turn would help to bridge the gap between High Point and Greensboro--at least the sprawl would be contained between two cities.

The northern arc scares me though...

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actually the northern arc will allow people on the north side of town to get to the airport much quicker. I'm pretty sure we'll see a major regional mall built in North Greensboro near the loop. Greensboro's wealthiest residents live on the north and northwest side of town near the big lakes. If Greensboro ever got a store like Nordstrom, it would be in a regional mall on the north side of town

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Loop road = sprawl. Maybe there's no way around it, but I hate to see one city after another do this. At least it sounds like it will be far enough away from DT to avoid isolating DT from the rest of the region.

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I agree, any highway project is going to increase sprawl. But Greensboro and Guilford County leaders now have a comprehensive plan in place which is something they did not have 5 years ago. This plan will help control the kind of sprawl that we have seen happen in Greensboro over the past decade. But you're right, It can't be stopped all together. The loop will help traffic problems within the city. Greensboro must limit development around the loop. Otherwise, 25 years from now another outer loop will be needed. We've seen this happen in a number of cities. Raleigh is one example. Raleigh will now have 2 loops. The current inner loop and the big outer loop. When the inner loop was built, it was actually desginated as an outer loop.

2015 is a projected date. However, the completion could happen sooner. When the loop was being planned, it was projected that construction would start around 2004. It started around 2001/2002. It just depends on when the city gets the funds to complete the northern loop.

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Also, I think Greensboro needs to annex land around the Beltway to control development around the loop. Also, they need to add street lights around the loop, so it doesn't seem like it is out in desert territory.

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Greensboro's water and sewer already extends past the loop so the land outside the loop will be annexed once the land meet certain urban requirements.

I really don't know if Burlington needs a loop. 8 lanes on I-85/40 is enough and Burlington's population in my opinion is not big enough for a loop. I think Burlington wants the loop to spur development and to grow closer to Greensboro.

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Street lights would be a great addition... I have gotten used to illuminated freeway driving, and now dark freeways seem a little spooky.

What is the rationale behind all the freeways in the Raleigh area being dark? I remember when they expanded the Beltline to 6 lanes, they have places in the center divider for lamp posts--almost as though they planned to install them at some point.

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Helping to alleviate traffic congestion just gives people less reason to live downtown or a pedestrian-oriented lifestyle, and makes it easier for them to keep driving and to live an auto-dependent lifestyle in an auto-dependent area.

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