A new interchange set to open next week on Interstate 80 features something new to the state.
Iowa Department of Transportation district four engineer Troy Jerman says the “diverging diamond” interchange will provide access to western areas of Waukee and West Des Moines. “This interchange is the first-of-its-kind in the state. Other states have had them for years, but this is the first one in Iowa,” Jerman said.
The new interchange, located about 3 miles west of the Jordan Creek Parkway interchange, is scheduled to open Tuesday (December 1) at noon.
The diverging diamond design has at least a few benefits, including less landuse, increased vehicle capacity, and improved safety. “It takes some of the left turn conflicts out of play, which is where many crashes happen,” Jerman said.
The new interchange allows for “free-flowing” turns, instead of left turns, for drivers entering or exiting the interstate. Drivers crossing I-80 are directed to the opposite side of the road, then directed back to the original driving pattern.
Jerman isn’t worried about the “new-to-Iowa” design confusing motorists. “They’re pretty self-explanatory, just don’t try to over think it,” Jerman suggests. “As people drive through them, they get through and then realize ‘hey, I just went through that new diverging diamond.’ It’s not terribly complicated to drive through.”
Construction work on the interchange began around one year ago with a total cost of $50 million. It’s designed to relieve congestion at major interchanges in West Des Moines and Waukee, two of the fastest growing cities in the state.