Salt Lake Valley's first diverging diamond: Smooth sailing so far
Drivers got a first taste of Salt Lake County's only diverging diamond interchange Monday morning and Utah Department of Transportation officials said the new configuration already improved traffic for the morning commute.
And, with a UDOT traffic monitoring camera fixed on the interchange all day, no problems were reported for the afternoon commute either.
"So far things are flowing as expected," UDOT spokesman Adan Carrillo said. "We opened it late last night and there wasn't a way to tell because traffic is pretty light then."
UDOT opened the interchange six hours earlier than expected. Officials had thought it would be ready by 5 a.m. Monday, but crews worked quickly and finished it by 11 p.m. Sunday.
The diverging diamond interchange is the third in Utah and officials said this one cost $10 million to install. It would've cost $40 million if UDOT had undergone a traditional interchange expansion to accommodate the 100,000 vehicles that use it each day,
Diverging diamond interchanges began to attract attention when Missouri installed the first one in 2009 as a way to handle heavy traffic flow at costs dramatically lower than typical ramps linking highways and roads.
Tim Rose, region two director for UDOT, said the new interchanges are "intuitive" for drivers though some have noted the initial oddity of driving through one and being on what feels like the wrong side of the road for a short stretch.
The design at the Highway 201 and Bangerter Highway interchange essentially sweeps drivers making left turns to head either north or south on Bangerter onto the far right side of the road over the bridge before they are then directed back across to the traditional left side of the road.
To help with possible confusion, Carrillo said UDOT posted a YouTube video that animates how the intersection works and he said it has already received 10,000 hits.
"People have been going there to get familiar with it," Carrillo said.
While the interchange is operational, Carrillo said there will still be orange cones up for about a week as crews complete finishing touches on the project.