Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Hybrid Diverging Diamond' Next?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Hybrid Diverging Diamond' Next?

Article excerpt

SARASOTA COUNTY

SARASOTA COUNTY -- With Florida's first diverging diamond interchange under construction at Interstate 75 and University Parkway, transportation planners are working on another first for this area and the state.

They call it a "hybrid diverging diamond interchange," and they think it would improve traffic flow at I-75 and Bee Ridge Road.

The project is in the design phase, with no money set aside for construction. The Florida Department of Transportation's five-year plan calls for $2.6 million to be allocated for right-of-way acquisition in 2020-2021.

The public will get a look at those preliminary designs in December or February. Designs are likely to be ready next spring.

At a regional transportation planning meeting Monday, Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio said he hopes the FDOT will "save the scalp of the five county commissioners" at that upcoming public forum by providing a thorough explanation of what it intends to do.

A conventional diverging diamond moves traffic from the right side of

the road to the left to make for easier left turns onto the interstate, with lanes then continuing back to the right for through traffic. It is intended to better manage "high volumes of opposing left turns," said Kevin Ingle, the FDOT's major reconstruction design engineer.

"It just doesn't work" at the Bee Ridge interchange, where the "high volume" of left turn traffic onto I-75 is only coming from the eastbound lanes of Bee Ridge, Ingle said.

The interchange is being redesigned in conjunction with a future expansion of I-75 to have five lanes in each direction (including two express lanes and one lane intended only for traffic going to the next exit) from Clark Road in Sarasota to U.S. 301 in Ellenton.

Looped ramps at the Bee Ridge interchange will be replaced with straighter alignments for traffic entering and exiting I-75.

The project also calls for adding an I-75 exit ramp to the Wilkinson Road and Cattlemen Road intersection and redesigning the intersection at Bee Ridge and Cattlemen.

Currently, the signalized intersection at Cattlemen, which is 700 feet west of I-75, "causes traffic to back up into the interchange," Ingle said. …

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