Diverging Diamond now officially open, but work still needed - KMOV.com

Diverging Diamond now officially open, but work still needed

(KMOV) -- After a two week "sneak preview," a unique interchange offering a first-of-it's kind driving experience for local commuters is now officially open.

The so-called "Diverging Diamond" interchange is located at I-270 and Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights.

We walked the interchange as MODOT crews put some finishing touches on the interchange, marking it officially open.  It's on time and under budget by more than $10 Million, and that's generating quite a bit of buzz.

MODOT lays the final lines before giving the green light to the first diverging diamond interchange in the St. Louis area.

Edward Jones, which is visible from Dorsett and I-270, is also a major player.  With the new interchange comes the ability to expand and the promise of adding 500 to 1,000 new, well-paying jobs.

"This is going to be a great opportunity for business growth  -- Edward Jones, particularly," County Executive Charlie Dooley says.  "The business people won't be backed up in traffic congestion."

Drive it, and you'll never make a left turn across traffic.  MODOT says in the two-week trial run, it's already seen a decrease in traffic delays and congestion.

"If you remember, traffic used to back up onto the interstate from the ramps on Dorsett, and we've seen nothing like that, so this interchange is working as advertised," MODOT District Engineer Ed Hassinger says.

But, it still needs some fine-tuning.

"As the traffic gets back into its normal patterns, we'll adjust the signals," Hassinger says.  "We do that for rush hour, evening, morning, what happens during lunch, so we'll be in that mode for a couple of weeks."

It's the third new interchange build for MODOT and only the fourth in the nation, paving the way for more.

"We're definitely using this is a new thing to consider every time we have an interchange that's got problems," Hassinger says.

In fact, MODOT has already drawn up diverging diamond plans to light a new path at the Mid Rivers Mall Drive, I-70 interchange in St. Charles County.  It's less expensive to build and it's expected to reduce crashes.  That's been the case in Springfield where MODOT says a diverging diamond has decreased accidents by 50-percent.

You're probably asking -- when will all of this construction end?  I found out that next year won't have nearly the projects we've seen this year.  Engineers say to think of it this way:  they bought the house, and now it's time to pay the mortgage.

You can expect to see crews working on landscaping and sidewalks at the diverging diamond through the end of the year.

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