A group calling for enhanced bridges along Business 40 downtown had a public unveiling of the designs on Monday, in advance a campaign to make the designs a reality.
The Creative Corridors Coalition held “Meet the Designs and the Designers” event Hanesbrands Theatre on Spruce Street to show off the designs, which include bridges with arches, elements of a Moravian star and a naturalistic “land bridge” for the downtown Strollway.
Designers Donald McDonald, Walter Hood and Larry Kirkland took part in the event, which gave the public a chance to see artists’ renderings of the designs up close.
The three men noted for their work in architecture and art were hired by the Creative Corridors Coalition to work on the bridges that the group hopes to turn into iconic city landmarks.
“When you drive though this town at 40 or 50 miles per hour you ought to come away with an image,” McDonald said during a press conference held Monday morning. McDonald’s bridge-design credits include the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, S.C. and Tilikum Crossing, a pedestrian and biking bridge in Portland, Ore.
Here, McDonald and the others noticed design elements that include the Moravian-style arch and the points on a Moravian star, along with red-brick architecture that they feel should be prominent design elements on Business 40 when renovations are complete.
About a hundred people turned out to see the designs.
“I think they are wonderful,” said Patricia Sokoloff, who came out to look at the artists’ renderings. “We have an extraordinary community here. The arts people and the people who plan things physically work together.”
The Business 40 project includes the complete reconstruction of the Peters Creek Parkway interchange and the streamlining of Business 40 downtown by eliminating some ramps and lengthening the ones that remain.
It all gets under way in 2016, meaning that city and state officials have to make some final decisions soon about what the roadway will look like in addition to the better functionality.
Creative Corridors is hoping to raise about $5.2 million privately, using that money in part to go in with the city and leverage another $5 million or so in federal funds to make streetscape improvements as well on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the new Research Parkway leading into a road under construction called the Salem Creek Connector.
Guests invited for a noon luncheon heard the Creative Corridors pitch at the building that houses the Winston-Salem Foundation downtown on Monday.
Creative Corridors is focusing on enhancements for the Peters Creek Parkway bridge over Business 40, a Green Street pedestrian bridge to the east and a Strollway bridge downtown. In addition, a bridge with interlocking arches will rise at the intersection of U.S. 52 and the Salem Creek Connector.
As proposed by the Creative Corridors design team, the Peters Creek Parkway bridge would include illuminated spires reminiscent of the tips of a Moravian star, while the Green Street bridges would have an arched design.
The Strollway land bridge would be designed to incorporate plantings and even small trees to give a naturalistic effect.
Pat Ivey, divisional engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County, said some of the Creative Corridors designs build on the efforts of a Bridge Working Group that the Transportation Department put together to work on bridge designs.
“The DOT took the work of the working group and put together enhanced pedestrian bridges,” Ivey said. “Creative has gone to the next level.”
Extras like that cost money, hence the need for a private fundraising effort if the designs are to be upgraded beyond what the Transportation Department would ordinarily pay for.
Creative Corridors officials said Monday that the effort has received $250,000 from the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation, $200,000 from the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund and $100,000 from an anonymous donor.
Desiree Payne, who with her husband Rich lives in West Salem, said she is enthusiastic about the treatments proposed for the Green Street bridge, which would be flanked with arches. And the elevated Strollway bridge, she said, would be a lot better than the current layout.
“We use the Strollway now and it is almost scary,” Payne said.
Regina McCoy said that while the designs are good, she worries that the fancy bridges could create the kind of gentrification that could drive out poorer people and minorities.
“I want our community to have this blend,” McCoy said.
Anne Cannon said that when she visits her daughter in Phoenix, Ariz., the designs on the highways give a sense of being in the Southwest.
Winston-Salem needs something that can make it stand out, she said.
“I love everything they have done,” Cannon said.