Salem Parkway (North Carolina)

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Salem Parkway

Route of Salem Parkway highlighted in red
Route information
Length18.5 mi[1] (29.8 km)
History1958–1992 as I-40/East–West Expressway
1992–2020 as I-40 Business
2016–present as Salem Parkway
Major junctions
West end I-40 / US 421 in Winston-Salem
Major intersections
East end I-40 / US 421 near Colfax
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
CountiesForsyth, Guilford
Highway system

The Salem Parkway is an 18.5-mile-long (29.8 km) freeway in the U.S. state of North Carolina, serving the city of Winston-Salem and the town of Kernersville. It is signed as U.S. Route 421 (US 421) for its entire length, though it is also concurrent with US 158 in downtown Winston-Salem and North Carolina Highway 150 (NC 150) between Winston-Salem and Kernersville. Originally known as the East–West Expressway, it was designated as part of Interstate 40 (I-40) and opened in 1958, becoming the first section of Interstate Highway in the state. I-40 was rerouted onto a new alignment bypassing Winston-Salem and Kernersville in 1992, at which time the road was designated Interstate 40 Business, nicknamed Business 40.

Beginning in November 2018, a 1.2-mile-long (1.9 km) section of the freeway in downtown Winston-Salem between Peters Creek Parkway (NC 150) and the John Gold Memorial Expressway (US 52) was closed for reconstruction to rebuild the substandard roadway, exit and entrance ramps, and bridges.[2] The section east of Main Street reopened August 30, 2019.[3] As part of the project, the Business 40 designation was decommissioned and replaced with the name Salem Parkway, which had been chosen by popular vote in 2016. This included changing guide signs to include the new name, as well as renumbering exits to follow the mileage of US 421. The name change went into effect on February 2, 2020, when the road reopened,[4][5][6] though signage outside of the project area had been changed in late December 2019.[7]

Route description

The Salem Parkway runs east-west through Winston-Salem and Kernersville, though it is designated on signs as the north-south US 421, with north on the signage aligning to west, and vice versa.

The parkway begins on US 421 at Exit 238, the interchange with I-40 in Winston-Salem. The road runs northeast carrying US 421, meeting Silas Creek Parkway (NC 67) at a cloverleaf interchange before reaching an interchange with Stratford Road (US 158). From here, the parkway turns east concurrent with US 158, continuing east and joining NC 150 at Peters Creek Parkway. In downtown Winston-Salem, the Salem Parkway meets Marshall Street and Cherry Street before passing under the Strollway. A half-interchange allows access to and from the one-way northbound Main Street, with only a westbound off-ramp and eastbound on-ramp. The parkway intersects the John Gold Memorial Expressway (US 52/NC 8, though NC 8 is not signed at this interchange) at a cloverleaf interchange and meets Martin Luther King Jr. Drive immediately after.

Leaving the downtown Winston-Salem area, US 158 exits the Salem Parkway onto Reidsville Road at a partial interchange, with the parkway continuing east concurrent with US 421 and NC 150. Entering Kernersville, the parkway comes to a partially built interchange with the under-construction Winston-Salem Northern Beltway (NC 74). Continuing through the town, the Salem Parkway meets South Main Street and then NC 66. The route then passes diamond interchange with Macy Grove Road with NC 150 exiting the parkway. The Salem Parkway exits Forsyth County, before ending at a half-interchange with I-40 south of Colfax, with only an eastbound entrance and westbound exit on I-40. US 421 continues on I-40 toward Greensboro.


After the consolidation of Winston and Salem in 1913, the combined city was not only a merger of local government but a joining of two different road systems. By the 1940s, Winston-Salem grew to become the largest manufacturing hub in the state, thanks to companies like R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the P.H. Hanes Knitting Company; while multiple highways connected the city, there was no road that directly went from one end to the other without making turns and as a result traffic congestion was a constant in the downtown area. From 1946 to 1956, various traffic pattern studies were performed and plans created that reshaped the city for the next fifty years.[8]

East–West Expressway

Sunrise over the old Broad Street bridge

In 1954, Winston-Salem gave the state $1 million to buy right-of-way for what was called the East–West Expressway; construction began that same year. Though it was planned to become a new routing of US 158, that changed two years later, when the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was passed and North Carolina was allocated 714 miles (1,149 km) for their share of the Interstate Highway System; 219 miles (352 km) was subsequently allocated for a route from the Tennessee state line, through Asheville and Winston-Salem, to Greensboro. With the designation of I-40, the East–West Expressway would become the first completed section of Interstate in the state.[8][9]

On January 6, 1958, the first 1.2-mile-long (1.9 km) section of the East–West Expressway was opened, connecting between Cloverdale Avenue and Main Street.[10][11] Because of the novelty, local newspapers ran a series of stories and diagrams on how to use the expressway, educating the public on how on-ramps and off-ramps work.[8] Designated as I-40, the expressway soon ran concurrently with US 158 in 1959, from Stratford Road to Marshall (westbound) and Cherry (eastbound) streets.[12] In 1960, the expressway was extended west into Yadkin County, at NC 801, and east to Reidsville Road.[13] In 1961, US 421 was rerouted from Pfafftown and downtown Winston-Salem onto new freeway that connected directly with the expressway, then continued easterly running concurrently with I-40.[14] In 1962, US 158 was realigned to continue along the expressway to Reidsville Road, its former alignment became US 158 Business (decommissioned in 1970). East of Reidsville Road, I-40/US 421 was extended onto new freeway to Kernersville, where it then linked with second built section of I-40 (late 1958) and continued towards Greensboro.[15]

Interstate 40 Business

Interstate 40 Business

LocationWinston-SalemColfax, NC
Length18.5 mi[1] (29.8 km)
HistoryBriefly extended through Greensboro in 2008

After 1958, the East–West Expressway segment of I-40 changed little while Interstate standards have changed considerably in regards to safety and faster speeds. In the 1980s, a study with the city and state concluded that construction of a new route was preferable to widening and modernizing the freeway through Winston-Salem. The state therefore lobbied the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), arguing that since this section predated the 1956 Act, it never received federal highway dollars for its development and construction, thus I-40 was incomplete in Winston-Salem. In October 1988, they were able to convince the FHWA, and Governor James G. Martin announced federal approval of $114.1 million for I-40 to be relocated onto new bypass south of Winston-Salem.[16][17] In November 1992, the 20.89-mile (33.62 km) Winston-Salem Bypass was completed and opened; I-40 was officially rerouted at that time and a new designation was given to the East–West Expressway, Interstate 40 Business.[18][19][20][21]

Before 2016, Salem Parkway was a business loop of Interstate 40. Once the name of the parkway was announced in 2016 and the downtown stretch was renovated in 2020, I-40 Business was decommissioned and the Salem Parkway replaced it.

Hawthorne curve

Since its opening in 1960, the Hawthorne Curve, a 10° S-curve overpass of Hawthorne Road, became an infamous accident-prone location; typically speed related, cars and trucks wrecking against the curve and in some cases jumping the guard rail and falling 35 feet (11 m) off the overpass. Blame for the curve mostly fell on then Winston-Salem Mayor Marshall Kurfees, who is believed to have ordered the curve to protect political allies who owned businesses on Hawthorne Road and First Street. Kurfees spent the rest of his life denying the allegation, stating that the engineers designed it while he had no input to the project. Over the years, several studies were done and various little fixes were made to improve the situation including a reduced 45-mile-per-hour (72 km/h) speed zone, better guardrails and the installation of blinking lights and flashing warning signs. In January 1998, the first major improvement in 40 years started with the realignment of Hawthorne Curve. At a cost of $26 million, construction lasted for two years building a new overpass and reshaping the sharp curve to a more gentle one. It was completed seven months early in the middle of 2000.[22][23]

Brief Greensboro extension

In February 2008, I-40 was rerouted onto new freeway south of Greensboro, becoming part of the Greensboro Urban Loop. The old route through Greensboro became an extension of I-40 Business, with a six-mile (9.7 km) hidden concurrency along I-40/US 421, between exits 206 and 212. This extended the route 20 miles (32 km), ending at a new terminus with I-85/I-40, near McLeansville.[24]

However, NCDOT officials received many complaints by local residents and motorists on the confusion between the new I-40 and I-40 Business. Another issue was that funding for construction and repairs on the old route was slashed since it was no longer designated as an Interstate (Interstate business routes are not officially part of the Interstate Highway System) On September 12, 2008, with permission from the FHWA, I-40 was moved back to its old route through Greensboro, decommissioning Business 40 through Greensboro.[25][26]

Macy Grove Road interchange

Construction began in June 2013 on the first phase of a project to extend Macy Grove Road around the east side of Kernersville.[27][28] Macy Grove Road, which previously passed over Business 40 with no interchange and ended at Old Greensboro Road, was extended to a temporary terminus at a connector to East Mountain Street, with a diamond interchange built connecting it to Business 40. The extension and interchange opened in May 2015, at which point the former partial interchange with East Mountain Street immediately east of the NC 66/NC 150 interchange was closed and demolished[29] and the westbound roadway through the former interchange realigned closer to the eastbound roadway. In October 2020, NC 150 was rerouted onto Macy Grove Road from the Salem Parkway interchange to the Main Street intersection as Macy Grove Road was extended north from its section built in 2015.

Salem Parkway

In 2006, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) decided to rebuild the freeway between Fourth Street and Church Street, which covers most of the original 1.2-mile-long (1.9 km) section of the East–West Expressway from 1958. For the next ten years, NCDOT made several studies and a series of public meetings before awarding a design-build contract with Flatiron Constructors, Inc./Blythe Development Company Joint Venture and HDR Engineering, Inc., in September 2016, to complete the final design and construct the project. Considered as a $100 million do-over, the project included: replacing the existing roadway pavement, modernizing entrance and exit ramps, replacing nine vehicular bridges, adding two pedestrian bridges, lengthening the acceleration and deceleration lanes between ramps and widening existing roadway shoulders and adding new ones. When Salem Parkway opens, contractors will still be working on final touches. The opening speed limit will be 45 mph (72 km/h). Once the project is totally completed, the speed may increase to 55 mph (89 km/h).[30]

Salem Parkway unveiling

NCDOT had also decided that once construction was completed, that I-40 Business would be decommissioned and a new name would be given to the freeway alongside the existing US 421 designation. The rationale was the continued confusion locals and travelers have between I-40 and I-40 Business. In November 2015, the residents of Winston-Salem metro area were allowed to submit a nomination for a new name, with a January 30, 2016, deadline. A selection committee, which included appointments from Winston-Salem and Kernersville, whittled the list to just four for another public vote.[31] The eventual four finalist names were: Golden Leaf Parkway, alluding to the region's tobacco-growing and processing heritage; Innovation Highway, showing the high-tech aspirations of the area; Piedmont Corridor, identifying geographic location in a highly developed part of the state, and Salem Parkway, which refers to the Moravian settlement founded in 1766.[32] On October 21, 2016, Governor Pat McCrory announced, at the project's ground breaking event, the new name of the freeway as the Salem Parkway; which was the overwhelming favorite, receiving 53% of the vote.[33] This name change took place when the highway reopened on February 2, 2020,[4][5] though new signs will show the Salem Parkway name once they are installed.[7]

Downtown reconstruction

On the first day of close, work began on the Broad Street bridge

First phase of construction was focused on and around Peters Creek Parkway (NC 150), which included lowering the freeway to establish a minimum vertical clearance of 17 feet (5.2 m) at the new Fourth Street two-lane bridge and 17.5 feet (5.3 m) at the new seven-lane Peters Creek Parkway bridge. After two years of intermittent closures, the new Peters Creek Parkway bridge was opened on November 12, 2018.[34][35] On November 17, the second phase began with the complete shutdown of Business 40 between Peters Creek Parkway and John Gold Memorial Expressway (US 52/US 311/NC 8); three alternate routes were set up through the downtown area for locals while travelers are encouraged to remain on mainline I-40.[36]

During construction, Business 40 was lowered to establish a minimum vertical clearance of 17 feet (5.2 m) for the new Marshall, Cherry, Main and Church Street bridges; Spruce Street bridge was removed and Liberty Street changed from an underpass to an overpass as a result. The Broad Street interchange was permanently closed and removed, the Cherry Street interchange will be modified with Marshall Street, and the Main Street interchange was modified to have only a southbound on-ramp and a northbound off-ramp. Two pedestrian bridges will also be completed, one of which will replace Green Street Bridge, and a Strollway Bridge adjacent to Liberty Street.[34][37][38][39]

On August 30, 2019, the section east of Main Street was opened.[3] Reconstruction of the downtown segment was completed February 2, 2020.[6]

Exit list

Exit numbers were renumbered to reflect U.S. 421's milemarkers.[40]

CountyLocationmikmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
US 421 north – Yadkinville
Continuation as US 421
1238 I-40 – Greensboro, StatesvilleWestbound left exit
1.632.622 A-B237A-B
NC 67 east (Silas Creek Parkway south) – Forsyth Tech

NC 67 west (Silas Creek Parkway north) – Wake Forest University, LJVM Coliseum
2.423.893A236Knollwood Street
2.884.633 B-C235
US 158 west (Stratford Road)
West end of US 158 overlap; signed Exit 235A (Stratford Road north) and 235B (US 158 west/Stratford Road south) from westbound Salem Parkway
3.455.554A234CCloverdale Avenue
3.796.104B234BWest First Street / Hawthorne RoadWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
NC 150 west (Peters Creek Parkway) – Truist Stadium
West end of NC 150 overlap
4.517.265BBroad StreetPermanently closed as of November 2018
4.817.745C233BCherry Street / Marshall StreetTo Convention Center; Cherry Street signed indirectly from eastbound; Marshall Street signed indirectly from westbound
5.008.055D233AMain StreetWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; to Old Salem and Salem College

US 52 south / NC 8 south (John Gold Memorial Expressway) – Lexington

US 52 north / NC 8 north (John Gold Memorial Expressway) – Mount Airy, Airport
NC 8 unsigned on guide signs; Smith Reynolds Airport signed as "Airport"
5.889.466C232AMartin Luther King Jr. DriveTo Winston-Salem State University
6.9711.227231Lowery Street / Fifth StreetEastbound Lowery Street, westbound Fifth Street
US 158 east (Reidsville Road) – Walkertown, Reidsville
East end of US 158 overlap; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
9.6615.5510228Linville Road
NC 74 (Winston-Salem Northern Beltway) to US 311
Opened to traffic on September 4, 2020[41]
13.8422.2714224South Main Street – Kernersville
15222 NC 66 – Kernersville, Walkertown
15.6025.1116Mountain Street – ColfaxPermanently closed as of May 2015[29]
NC 150 east (Macy Grove Road) – Oak Ridge
East end of NC 150 overlap[42]

I-40 east / US 421 south (Fordham Boulevard) – Greensboro
Continuation as I-40 / US 421
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b Google (February 1, 2011). "I-40 Bus in NC" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  2. ^ Lane, Mallory (November 17, 2018). "Portions of Business 40 officially shutdown until 2020". Winston-Salem, NC: WXII-TV. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Young, Wesley (August 30, 2019). "Open on time: Main Street now links to Business 40 and U.S. 52". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Young, Wesley (December 8, 2019). "New exit numbers going up on Business 40". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Young, Wesley (November 16, 2019). "One year down - just months to go". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Young, Wesley; O'Donnell, Lisa (February 2, 2020). "Business 40 is now open as Salem Parkway". Winston-Salem Journal. Winston-Salem, NC. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Business 40 Exit Number Signs to be Changed after Christmas Holiday". NCDOT. December 17, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Business 40 Changing Lanes: The Highway's History". Winston-Salem, NC: WFDD. June 13, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  9. ^ "I-40 Fact Sheet" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. June 21, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 21, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  10. ^ North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission (1957). 1957 North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  11. ^ North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission (1958). 1958 North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina State Highway Commission. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  12. ^ North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission (1959). 1959 North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina State Highway Commission. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  13. ^ North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission (1961). 1961 North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina State Highway Commission. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  14. ^ North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission (1961). North Carolina: Variety Vactionland (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina State Highway Commission. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  15. ^ North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission; U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (1962). North Carolina County Road Survey 1962 (PDF) (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina State Highway Commission. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "U.S. Approves Money for I-40 Bypass". The Charlotte Observer. October 6, 1988. p. 4B.
  17. ^ North Carolina Department of Transportation (1988). 1988 North Carolina Transportation Map (Map). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  18. ^ Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (October 3, 1992). "Report of the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering to the Executive Committee" (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 16, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  19. ^ "Route Change (1992-11-09)" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. November 9, 1992. p. 2. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  20. ^ North Carolina Department of Transportation (1992). 1992-93 North Carolina Transportation Map (Map) (1992-93 ed.). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  21. ^ North Carolina Department of Transportation (1993). 1993-94 North Carolina Transportation Map (Map) (1993-94 ed.). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  22. ^ Sexton, Scott (September 12, 2016). "Scott Sexton: Tomorrow's traffic hassle on Winston-Salem's Business 40 same as yesterday's and today's". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  23. ^ "Flashback: The Hawthorne Curve". Winston-Salem Journal. November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  24. ^ "NCDOT to open I-40/73 Greensboro Western Urban Loop Thursday" (Press release). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Transportation. February 19, 2008. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  25. ^ "NCDOT will reroute I-40 from Greensboro Urban Loop back to original location" (Press release). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Transportation. September 12, 2008. Archived from the original on December 24, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  26. ^ "DOT to spend at least $300K to reroute I-40 in Greensboro". Raleigh, NC: WRAL-TV. September 15, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  27. ^ "NCDOT: Macy Grove Road Improvements". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  28. ^ "Macy Grove Road Map" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. April 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  29. ^ a b Young, Wesley (May 20, 2015). "Macy Grove Road interchange now open on Business 40 in Kernersville". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  30. ^ "About the Business 40 Project". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  31. ^ Young, Wesley (November 29, 2015). "Name that road: Nominations being taken for new Business 40 name". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  32. ^ Young, Wesley (October 21, 2016). "Business 40 renamed Salem Parkway". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  33. ^ Moore, Bethany (October 20, 2017). "Business 40 to become Salem Parkway". Winston-Salem, NC: WXII-TV. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  34. ^ a b "Winston-Salem Business 40 Improvements Project". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  35. ^ "Completed Peters Creek Parkway Bridge to Open Monday" (Press release). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Transportation. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  36. ^ McCarty, Alma (November 17, 2018). "From Peters Creek Parkway to US 52 - the 2 Year Business 40 Closure Is Here". Greensboro, NC: WFMY-TV. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  37. ^ Young, Wesley (September 14, 2016). "Good news: Business 40 in Winston-Salem will close a little less than 2 years. Here's the timetable". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  38. ^ Young, Wesley (December 12, 2018). "Spruce Street bridge comes down". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  39. ^ Young, Wesley (July 15, 2019). "Downtown traffic gets a break with opening of Liberty Street bridge over Business 40". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  40. ^ Young, Wesley (December 8, 2019). "New exit numbers going up on Business 40". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  41. ^ Young, Wesley (September 4, 2020). "6 new lanes, all 65 mph opening from Salem Parkway to Reidsville Road". Winston-Salem Journal. Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  42. ^ "New Route Opening Ahead of Schedule in Forsyth County" (Press release). Raleigh, NC: NCDOT. NCDOT. October 8, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.

External links