The first short section of interstate highway in North Carolina opened in downtown Winston-Salem in 1958 and became part of Interstate 40. The highway included on- and off-ramps that were short and steep, and a tight, 10-degree S-curve that was blamed for frequent crashes at the Hawthorne Road overpass.
When I-40 was rerouted around Winston-Salem in 1992, the old path was renamed Business 40. The speed limit fell to 45 mph. A $26 million reconstruction project made the Hawthorne Curve straighter and less narrow.
In late 2018, the N.C. Department of Transportation shut down a 1.2-mile section for a $99 million project to complete the four-lane freeway’s transformation. The pavement was replaced, the shoulders were widened, and the abrupt entrance and exit ramps were lengthened or closed. Business 40 was rechristened Salem Parkway when it reopened just 15 months later, in early 2020. It features a unifying design with brick-faced retaining walls and archways, two pedestrian bridges, and architectural fencing to convey a sense of place in the heart of Winston-Salem.