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April 1, 2014

Project at I-435 and Roe to cause commuter delays

Diverging diamond interchange is expected to reduce congestion in the future.

Commuters on Interstate 435 and Roe Avenue — at south Kansas City’s doorstep — will see construction delays over the next several months as the intersection is rebuilt into a “diverging diamond” interchange.

The Kansas Department of Transportation unveiled plans for the diverging diamond interchange on Thursday. Construction will begin this month and last through November, said Kimberly Qualls, KDOT public affairs manager.

Exact dates have not yet been set with the contractor, Clarkson Construction Company.

During construction, Roe Avenue temporarily will be closed to through traffic from 107th Street to 110th Street. Eastbound collection and distributions lanes on I-435 will also be closed. Drivers are advised to use the Nall Avenue interchange to the west and then either 103rd Street or College Boulevard.

When the Roe Avenue bridge over I-435 is demolished, the interstate also will temporarily be closed. Because both lanes of the bridge will be replaced at the same time, construction time should be reduced significantly, Qualls said.

This will be the second diverging diamond interchange in Kansas, following the one at I-35 and Homestead Lane in southwest Johnson County near the BNSF rail yard that opened in October. Jackson County’s first diverging diamond interchange was at I-435 and Front Street, which opened in 2012.

These kind of interchanges, invented in Europe with a growing popularity in America, feature traffic signals and signage that moves both directions of traffic to the opposite side of the road shortly before the interchange. This crossover allows left- and right-hand turns to be made at the same time, and drivers turning left onto the highway can do so without stopping at another light or turning in front of traffic.

This should help alleviate delays and congestion for drivers on Roe Avenue who want to turn left on I-435.

The department estimates about 143,000 vehicles travel through that area on I-435 every day. With high volume of cars coming off I-435 and trying to turn left onto Roe Avenue, traffic tends to get congested in that area of the interstate as well.

In 2009, Springfield, Mo., was the first city in the United States to implement the diverging diamond interchange. The city chose the design because it cut the cost of redoing the interchange at Interstate 44 and Missouri 13 from $6.8 million to $3.2 million, but drivers saw an immediate improvement in traffic flow, said Kirk Juranas, assistant public works director for Springfield and former Missouri Department of Transportation engineer.

“It flat-out moves cars,” he said in October.

Driving on the the left side of the road may sound strange, but Qualls said there has been little to no public criticism on the interchange at Homestead Lane near Edgerton.

Last Thursday, the department held an open house in Overland Park to inform area businesses. About 20 people attended.

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