I-85 interchanges will bring new look to state’s highway

Turbine, diverging diamond interchanges will be first in N.C.

02/01/2013 12:00 AM

01/31/2013 2:48 PM

Two new interchanges being built on Interstate 85 in the University City area will be the first of their kind in the state and among the first to be built in the country.

The interchanges have colorful names – the turbine and the diverging diamond – and each has a specialized goal.

The turbine interchange will allow drivers to switch from Interstate 485 to I-85 without having to slow down much.

Davis Diggs, the project manager from the N.C. Department of Transportation, said the interchange is being built for driving at 65 mph. The interchange looks like a bunch of swirls and doesn’t have lots of stacked bridges like many major interchanges typically do.

Jen Thompson, a spokeswoman for the N.C. DOT, said the projects have already generated a lot of excitement, and that the Federal Highway Administrator came to Charlotte last year to see the plans for the turbine interchange.

The diverging diamond interchange is different because it directs drivers to a lane that has no oncoming traffic and directs drivers to what Americans would call the wrong side of the road. Lanes then meet at an intersection where drivers are directed to cross back over to the correct side of the road.

Compared to typical highway interchanges, Diggs said, these interchanges will take up less space and are therefore less expensive to build. He said N.C. DOT is saving about $50 million by building the cutting-edge interchanges.

The turbine interchange will cost more than $98.6 million to build, and will span 100 acres, which Diggs said is smaller than the typical interchange between two big highways.

The construction of the diverging diamond interchange, along with the two super-streets near I-85, will cost about $11 million, Thompson said. The projects are set to be complete by spring and summer of next year.

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