DAVID ROSMAN: Dilemma at the diverging diamond I-70 interchange

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:13 p.m. CDT, Sunday, March 9, 2014

I did it. I challenged the gantlet and survived, although I am still a bit befuddled by driving like a Brit for the length of a football field. This strange diverging diamond interchange at I-70 and Stadium is at best OK. At worst, confusing.

For those of you who have decided to get on and off the interstate at the Business Loop 70 circle, let me describe my first two encounters. For those of you who have traveled this new “exchange,” laugh with me, because it is easier than crying.

One of the biggest problems I had was that of all of the reports of the new interchange, not one had a diagram of it worth a darn, if they had one at all. The only real depiction is found on the Missouri Department of Transportation site as a PDF file. But that is not exactly how the end product looks. There are a few changes.

Describing the interchange is not an easy thing. It is a little like trying to explain why there are cowboys and Indians in the final fight scene of the 1967 James Bond classic, "Casino Royale."

I just spent five minutes drawing a diverging diamond intersection in my notebook and can only say that from 10,000 feet above it would resemble an oscilloscope wave with the driving lanes changing sides in the middle of the bridge. Northbound Stadium begins on the right side of the street then crosses, not so gently, to the left side on the bridge and then back to the right. Southbound does the same. Confused?

If one would paint a large black iris in the middle of the bridge, the exchange would look something like the CBS eye logo complete with muscle formations.

Northbound Stadium to I-70 East is not a problem, nor is southbound Stadium to I-70 West. Those are the only problems the new interchange seems to have corrected with no confusion. I would suggest that one stays to the right lane on Stadium to get onto the interstate; you will avoid the traffic stopped at the new stoplight at the south and north ends of the bridge.

Northbound Stadium to I-70 West (and its reverse) will take a bit of getting used to. Getting to Perche Creek Golf seemed to be a bit easier, not waiting as long for cross-traffic and not worrying about being broadsided making a left-hand turn across traffic. Stay to the left lane and you should have little problems.

It is getting off I-70 West to southbound Stadium or I-70 East to northbound Stadium that caused some trepidation that I was going to have a head-on accident with oncoming traffic. You will find yourself driving on the “wrong” side of the street. WARNING — Do not do this at night for the first time. I did not heed my own advice.

Staying to the left makes for an easier exit from the interstate and, again, does not involve making a left-hand turn across traffic. But you are driving on the left side of the road and you can see the headlights of the cars on the other side of the bridge before they make their crossover. The illusion can cause one to want to stop and find the “correct” lane. Just remember: You ARE in the correct lane.

I have talked with those who have used the diverging diamond in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield. Most like the new interchange though they do take some time to become familiar. A bit longer for some than others and one person prefers the dreaded traffic roundabouts than drive on the wrong side of the street.

Let’s give this new idea a chance. Yes, there will be some confusion and maybe an accident or two (or three), but this is a design that seems to work in the driver’s favor.

Now for the other confusing situation of the last few weeks. Where did coach Gary Pinkel find the 2013 football Tigers? Beating the Gators decisively and holding a record of 7-0 should put the team in the top five nationally. And for the first time since moving from Colorado, I’ll put my Buffs ball cap away and wear a Tiger’s stripes for next weekend’s South Carolina game. At least they are the same colors.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a weekly column for the Missourian.

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John Schultz October 23, 2013 | 9:25 p.m.

I find the triple (!) lane access on I-70 East coming from northbound Stadium (the only interstate entry I've tried thus far) freaky at best and dangerous at worst. I understand why there are no lights for those coming off southbound Stadium, but the current configuration combined with the newness makes entry on to the interstate no fun (unless you're driving a sports car like my wife's). If nothing else, only one lane of northbound traffic should be able to get on the ramp, not two.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 24, 2013 | 5:14 a.m.

Situations such as this can perhaps best be charactrized by an expression used by our British cousins: "Too clever by half."

When I read in this newspaper that the diamond strategy was going to be employed I thought that maybe I exited Columbia at the right time. :)

What usually happens in such (traffic) situations is that, after a period of initial confusion and dismay, the LOCALS learn to live with things, but what about the poor b*****d who arrives as a visitor?

My favorite magazine ad was one for Range Rover. It showed a modern highway, to one side of which (and on the wrong side of the guard railing) was a Range Rover, driving along on a 45 degree slope. The caption said something like "The British have always had their own way of driving."

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates October 24, 2013 | 7:22 p.m.

Easist solution is just follow the arrows; but, on a wet night, you can't really seem them very well. In a city where folks still haven't figured out that you use turn signals in a traffic circle, one wouldn't expect this new pattern to work that well.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 26, 2013 | 6:19 a.m.

Skip Yates said, "Easiest solution is just to follow the arrows; but, on a wet night, you can't really see them very well."

You could the the arrows just fine if the paint used contained high refractive index glass microspheres. Of course that makes the paint cost more.

Would the glass microspheres hurt automobile tires? No.

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