Finally, after years of orange-cone obstacle courses and precariously re-routed side roads, after clear-cuts and controlled burns, after literal tons of that good, red dirt finally gave way and the beautiful, clean concrete ramps began to rise: The Greensboro Urban Loop has reached — almost! — my neighborhood.
Maybe you want to call it by its proper name: Interstate 840, which is what the signage will say when it’s all said and done. But I just call it “the loop.” We’re on familiar terms after years of following its progress across the northern end of town, writing about it, pointing it out to my kids every time — and I mean every time — we drive by.
And now it’s here! Almost! It won’t reach the Yanceyville exit, which would be closest to my house, for another year.
But right now, I can pick it up on North Elm Street and cut my drive time to the airport in half, which will come in handy when I have occasion to use an airport again. I’ve been using it to get to the grocery stores on North Battleground, avoiding the scrum of Cone and Lawndale. Just the other day, my son and I ordered dinner from the wrong Big Burger Spot. We drove from the one on Battleground to the one on Guilford College Road in 12 minutes. I know because we timed it.
In 2016, I wrote: “The most important construction in Greensboro isn’t a high-rise or a performing arts center. It’s a road that will change everything.” I still believe.
The Greensboro Loop connects the northeast part of the city with everything else. It will activate the eastern-most dead end of Cone Boulevard, which for now just peters off into the undergrowth. And it will make Greensboro feel more like a city and less like a town, which in my opinion is always a good thing.
Real cities have loops. Raleigh has a loop. Baltimore had the very first one in the nation. Washington DC has two — an inner and an outer. Even Fayetteville has a loop. And Winston-Salem has one in the works, about 20 percent finished, to be fully online sometime after 2030.
Geography is destiny, baby. And now, my neighborhood is literally on the map.