Everyone's got a hot take on roundabouts: you either love them or hate them!

I personally happen to be a big fan of roundabouts. Compared to the traditional 4-way stop I feel roundabouts are easier to navigate and you're likely to spend less time waiting as it's not always necessary to come to a complete stop.

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However, it seems the roundabout's most vocal opponents are the drivers who don't understand how they work; that's the real issue here.

To be fair some areas, like Kalamazoo for example, do seem to have an oddly high number of roundabouts. In fact, Kalamazoo is home to some of the most notoriously dangerous roundabouts in the state.

Well, buckle up because if you thought roundabouts were bad brace yourself for the newest interchange coming to Michigan's roads:

The Diverging Diamond

diverging diamond michigan

You may have recently heard about the new interchange scheduled to be installed in the Gaylord area, but what exactly is a diverging diamond? According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT),

A DDI is an alternative interchange that improves safety, increases traffic flow, and can reduce construction costs...To navigate a DDI, drivers follow signs, signals, and pavement markings to cross to the left side of the roadway after the first set of traffic signals. Vehicles going straight proceed through a second set of traffic signals and cross back to the right side of the road. All left turns onto the freeway are free flowing.

Yes, that in fact means that cars will be driving on the "opposite" side of the road. Speaking from experience going through your first diverging diamond can be quite jarring if you're not prepared for it.

There are several similar interchanges that have already successfully been implemented in Michigan, like I-96/Cascade Road in Kent County. Of the new Gaylord interchange MDOT adds,

This design had support from the community and provides the best balance of improvements to the movement of traffic, as well as safety and convenience for all users, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

As with roundabouts I believe these interchanges are actually safer to use, but that's only when drivers actually know how to navigate them. This will definitely be a learning curve!

Are you familiar with the concept of diverging diamonds?

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