GSO will grow with highway

For several decades, Greensboro and the North Carolina Department of Transportation have dreamed of working on a road project to ease traffic congestion in the city. Over the next few years, that project will enter its final phases.

Plans for the Greensboro Urban Loop, a beltway highway around the city, date back to the city’s 1967 Transportation Plan. But the project did not proceed until 1995 when an official Record of Decision was made.

The southern half of the Urban Loop, now comprising Interstates 85 and 73, was completed between 2005 and 2008. Construction on the northern half is underway.The missing portions of the Urban Loop span across northern Greensboro and Guilford County from Bryan Boulevard to U.S. Route 70. The task has been broken up into four projects, each in various stages of progress.

There is uncertainty about the Greensboro Loop bypass, there are some that reside here who recognize the economic value, but there is fear of the unknown.”

— Mark Hill, building manager for the Kensington Place apartments

Construction on the western portion of the Urban Loop began in October 2013. Crews started on the eastern portion less than a year later.

A third section between Battleground Avenue and Lawndale Drive is slated to begin this year. The final piece of the puzzle will not break ground until 2018.

The entire loop is scheduled to be complete in 2021, according to NCDOT. Estimated costs for loop in its entirety are approximately $775.8 million. $215.7 million of that amount has yet to be constructed. In addition to fixing issues of congestion on major roadways like Interstate 40 in Greensboro and reducing delays for drivers, the Urban Loop should also help improve driver safety. Bridges, interchanges and road surfaces will all be upgraded along the planned route to accommodate more motorists.

With a completed beltway, Greensboro may see an increase in economic growth and business too.

But the project has taken quite a large chunk of time to get off the ground. When factoring in the impact it has had on residents and the environment, the costs may be more than just taxpayer dollars. Bridges for the Urban Loop are also being built over Drawbridge Parkway, where a lot of apartment complexes are located.

“There is uncertainty about the Greensboro Loop bypass,” said Mark Hill, the building manager for the Kensington Place apartments located near Drawbridge Parkway. “There are some that reside here who recognize the economic value, but there is fear of the unknown.”

For now, the Urban Loop is still under construction. Only time will tell if it is a boon for more than just those behind the wheel.