Meadowlark Drive is clogged with traffic twice a day for about 30 minutes during the school year when drivers and buses ferry students at Meadowlark Elementary and Middle schools. New development continues to increase traffic on the street in western Winston-Salem.
The long-awaited widening of Meadowlark Drive on Winston-Salem, N.C.'s west side gets under way next year, with plans already made to keep the road open during those busy times when school is convening and letting out.
The Meadowlark widening project consists of adding a central turn lane to what is now a two-lane road.
The goal is to smooth traffic flow in an area that has seen a lot of development: Meadowlark has both an elementary and middle school, a new city park (Jamison Park) and the massive Brookberry Farm development, with its mix of houses and apartments.
The widening of Meadowlark was one of the projects approved by voters with the passage of a 2014 bond issue that designated $60 million for street improvements.
On Nov. 16, the Winston-Salem City Council awarded a contract in the amount of $7.7 million to Smith-Rowe LLC of Mount Airy for the widening work.
Although originally estimated at a cost of $5.6 million, the engineers' estimate for the project as designed came in at $8 million.
"There have been a number of things to deal with on the project," said Alan Temple, the project manager of the city. "It is a two-mile project, so there is a lot of property and property owners to deal with. We ran into some budget issues that delayed the project. It is a big, cumbersome project."
He said work is expected to start in early May, with a completion date a little over two years later, in 2023.
Because of the size of the project, the work is being split into two halves: First up is the southern end of the widening, where Meadowlark intersects with Country Club Road. Once that part of the work is done, the contractors will move to the northern end where Meadowlark intersects with Robinhood Road.
"The road will stay open during construction," Temple said. "We have put some restrictions in so that we do not have lane closures in school drop-off and pickup times."
One alteration that is taking place will be the closure of the intersection of Beauchamp Road and Meadowlark Drive.
At present, Beauchamp Road joins Meadowlark at a sharp angle, and the intersection is close to both the Country Club Road intersection on Meadowlark, and the shopping-center complex at the intersection.
The fix will consist of creating a new short street to connect Beauchamp Road to Rosewind Lane, a street that goes into Brookberry Farm from an intersection farther to the north on Meadowlark.
Then, the southern end of Beauchamp Road will be turned into a cul-de-sac so that traffic can no longer enter and leave the street at the current intersection.
Another feature of the widened Meadowlark will be the construction of a multi-use path alongside the street to make it easier for bicyclists and walkers to use it.
An ordinary sidewalk is 5 ft. wide, but the multi-use path will be 10 ft. wide, Temple explained. The path will be built along the east side of Meadowlark Drive.
"It will be wide enough for people to bike in both directions without causing any concerns," he added.
While not directly connecting to the nearby Muddy Creek Greenway, the multi-use path will make it easy for people and their bikes to get to Jamison Park, where they can easily connect to the greenway.
"The multi-use path will go from Country Club to Robinhood with access to the shopping centers and pass right in front of the schools," Temple explained.
Winston-Salem officials said the widening project will be paid for with a mix of 2014 general obligation bonds, plus other non-voted bonds, and federal funds that the city can get up to $1.5 million.
Under the terms of the contract, Smith-Rowe will have a goal of providing about 9 percent of its subcontracting work to businesses owned by women and minorities.
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