'Diamond' interchanges cutting commute time

EL PASO, Texas -- A new effort to ease traffic at busy intersections has some motorists in Texas briefly driving on the wrong side of the road. It's called a Divergent Diamond Interchange – and the first one in Texas is now open in El Paso.

"It will take some getting used to," said Eddie Valtier, director of transportation planning for TXDOT in El Paso.

Rapid growth in far East El Paso near Fort Bliss has led to clogged roads and the need for new solutions so the city is the first in Texas to use the new design at a the busy Loop 375/Spur 601 intersection.

The Divergent Diamond Interchange directs drivers to the left lane, usually the wrong side of the road to keep the flow of traffic continuous.

"For a few hundred feet you're in England but it takes you back to the traditional right side of the road right after the interchange," said Valtier.

The design doubles the amount of traffic that can travel through an intersection by making it easier to take left hand turns and reduces accidents. But on the day it opened in El Paso Motorists were still trying to figure it out.

"Never seen one of these before, first time," said George Hernandez, one of the first to drive through the new interchange.

"I'm not sure how this is going to work," said Selena Davis who was about to drive through the Divergent Diamond with her young daughter.

The design is working in 15 states and now Texas where construction on a second Divergent Diamond is set to begin this fall in the Austin area.

In the meantime TXDOT is asking El Paso area drivers who use the Diamond to pay attention until they are familiar with the design.

"Make sure you look at all the signs and you should get through it fine," said Valtier.


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