As Greensboro moves toward the end of the new century’s second decade, road plans made after World War II are taking concrete shape.
As construction continues, Battle Forest Village resident, Jim Bishop, follows his everyday routine that lets him experience the impact the Greensboro Urban Loop has on his life. As he walks down the sidewalk in front of his house, he takes a right turn expecting to see a three-story building and a parking lot. Instead, he is confronted by a huge excavator and a construction crew.
Construction crews are reshaping the land before Bishop’s eyes into what will become a six-lane superhighway filled with speeding cars, buses and trucks traveling from one city to the next. “I use the term ‘surreal’; it’s just surreal,” Bishop said, nodding towards the excavator as it dumps another load of dirt it scooped up into the bed of a dump truck.
In just a few months, traffic might be motoring north and south on the other side of the city, along the Loop’s section from U.S. 70 to U.S. 29.
“We’re thinking that section may be open in the fall this year, maybe October,” said Mike Mills of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, while noting that the contractor still has another year before the required completion date for the segment.
Meanwhile, the final segment for this project has officially begun. State transportation officials are planning to hire a contractor next spring to start the loop’s final section from Lawndale Drive to U.S. 29, which could be complete and be in full use in just a few years.
The loop received the official approval from federal regulators in 1995 and opened the first 2-mile section of the project from U.S. 70 South to Interstate 40/85 in May 2002. Planners began to chart today’s route for the new road in the early 1990s, drawing the road toward the western leg near Piedmont Triad International Airport instead of a closer route through Guilford College campus.
Despite this change, the one aim has remained constant: keep the loop’s upper tier south of Lake Jeanette. This meant going farther north and bridging the city’s network of water-supply lakes.
The project has gone through significant changes that have the road going through some of the most densely developed areas. Some people, like Bishop, find their lives affected in ways never thought of when the concept of this new highway was yet to be completed.
Though the project has been proceeding smoothly, it has met its fair share of troubles. As construction proceeds, more and more units are being torn apart to make room for the road. Bishop and 110 neighboring property owners are suing the Department of Transportation for damages beyond repair.
The impact of the new highway has not been positive for the residents of Battle Forest Village. Several private appraisals of properties around the neighborhood have already declined from a value of $117,000 to an average of $39,000, with some as low as $8,000. Residents have also started to complain about the construction noises, as the rumbling of heavy equipment can be heard indoors.
As the new road takes shape to make traffic flow smoother and faster, the loop will continue to raise problems in various parts of the community until it is complete.