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New “diamond interchange” redesign of I-96/Cascade junction in Grand Rapids called “counterintuitive,” yet a fix for traffic congestion

June 8, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Proposed fix diverts drivers to the “wrong” side of the road!

Diamond change on I-96 Cascade junction

Last week, I wrote about a new traffic design that temporarily directs drivers onto the “wrong” side of the road to ease gridlock. It’s called the “diverging diamond interchange,” and it’s planned for Grand Rapids, at the I-96 and Cascade junction.

Used in Europe and several other states, the diamond interchange is designed to reduce potentially dangerous “conflict points” by temporarily routing traffic to the left side of the road at a highway interchange.

MDOT officials are saying the $14 million redesign of the busy I-96 interchange at Cascade Road Southeast is a smarter fix than rebuilding the existing configuration, according to a recent Mlive article, ” ‘Counterintuitive’ redesign of I-96/Cascade junction right tool to ease congestion, MDOT director says.”

Next year, MDOT plans replace the Cascade bridge over I-96 with two new bridges that will be part of the diamond interchange, so motorists would drive on the left side of the road as they go over the highway on Cascade.

About 65,000 vehicles travel I-96 at Cascade Road every day, with frequent slowdowns during rush hour. The planned design would split Cascade in two over the highway, giving it a diamond-like appearance and limiting the number of left turns so traffic can flow more freely, as reported by Mlive.

MDOT officials said the interchange may seem “counterintuitive,” because it seems like you’re driving on the wrong side of the road. But in reality, they’re easy to navigate due to clear signals and markings. During a recent city meeting on the project, Wayne Harrall, Kent County Road Commission deputy managing director of engineering, explained:

“The concept is very good because it gets rid of turning movements at the traffic signals. Within the diamond it makes the left-turning movements permissive, so you don’t have to yield for anybody. You just get on the ramp and you go.”

There are currently 45 diamond change intersections in the U.S.

A good idea – But will diamond interchange cause spike in motor vehicle accidents?

Of course, we’ve heard this before. There are good ideas on paper that sometimes do not work out so well when implemented in real life. A good example of this is the new roundabout that now leads the entire state in traffic accidents. On paper, roundabouts, like diamond interchanges, reduce traffic congestion and minimize serious car accidents.  In practice, this one has seen its share of problems.

Our attorneys would like to hear from you. Do you think the new diamond interchange in Grand Rapids will ease traffic congestion and also maintain safety? Let us know what you think on our Michigan Auto Law Facebook page.

You also may visit our Michigan Dangerous Intersections page for a complete list of intersection car crashes (including roundabouts) that can be searched by any Michigan city or county, and our list of Michigan’s 2016 Top 20 Most Dangerous Intersections.


Related information:

Our Michigan Auto Law Grand Rapids office

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