I pick up Interstate 840 on Yanceyville Street — the Urban Loop! — on a brand-new exit that I swear wasn’t even set just a month ago. It’s 8:37 a.m.; nobody here but the SUVS and trucks and me.
I’ve been waiting for this day a long time, since I bought a house in this disconnected quadrant of Greensboro 20 years ago, when the notion of an express loop around the city was nothing but a dotted line on a paper map, an aspiration, a metaphor. They wanted to call it Painter Boulevard back then, but now nobody even remembers who Painter was. (Note: It was Churchman Painter, Greensboro’s first city manager who served 1921-29).
And now here I am!
I take the eastbound entrance and start humming along that sweet, new highway that opened for the first time on Monday afternoon, but it’s already demarcated on Apple Maps. I’m sharing this splendid stretch with a few savvy truckers avoiding the tangle of city roads and some commuters eager to try this new shortcut to Raleigh. Cruise control? Don’t mind if I do!
Soon I’m buzzing along at 75 mph, fast enough to make good time but not so fast as to draw attention, zooming through new overpasses that create sharp angles in the sky.
Then I’m headed south, across Huffine Mill Road and the eastern piece of Wendover Avenue, avoiding the exits and then hitting the stretch where the loop is still listed as Interstate 785, and then 85. Just near Pleasant Garden, the road cuts southwest at a 45-degree angle, past South-Elm Eugene Street, which would drop me off at my office in 15 minutes or so, not too bad.
And then all of a sudden I’m near Jamestown and the Grandover. I skip over to Interstate 73 for another piece, crossing the southern portion of Gate City Boulevard before it hits High Point. Then I hit the opposite end of Wendover, Exit 102 in perhaps half the time it would have taken me to traverse that thoroughfare across town.
Near the airport, I pick up 840 again and just like that! I am at Battleground Avenue, with Lawndale and Elm exits just over the horizon.
I complete the Urban Loop at the Yanceyville exit at precisely 9:09 a.m. — just 32 minutes for this victory lap around the city, so long in the making and finally come to pass.
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