Diamond gets finishing touches

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  • The passenger’s view of the diamond interchange is shown as the driver navigates the pattern, which requires westbound motorists to cross over to the left side of the intersection, then cross back to the right side of the divided highway.
    The passenger’s view of the diamond interchange is shown as the driver navigates the pattern, which requires westbound motorists to cross over to the left side of the intersection, then cross back to the right side of the divided highway.
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The area’s first diverging diamond interchange at 1-95 and State Road 200/A1A has already proven rough for some motorists. The interchange was officially implemented in Northeast Florida Nov. 15. 

Three crashes involving property damage have occurred inside the Diamond interchange from Nov. 14 through Monday, according to Florida Highway Patrol’s Public Information Officer Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan. 

An Augusta, Ga., woman died in a single-vehicle accident that occurred just outside of the interchange Nov. 28. 

“I was told that it was not related to the intersection,” Bryan wrote via email. “There were other contributing causes to that crash. … That report is still an open investigation.”

Although the $41 million Florida Department of Transportation project includes the newly configured interchange, improved drainage, high-mast lighting and interstate improvements, navigating through two traffic lights opposite the overpass can complicate passage for some. 

“While every driver experiences different traffic signal timings on the roadway, the signals at the interchange are operating correctly and as expected,” Hampton Ray, FDOT community outreach manager, noted via email. “At most, drivers can expect between one-to-two minutes waiting at traffic signals to move through the entire interchange.”

Motorists passing through the interchange may notice quicker changes from green to red when traveling from the first traffic light to the second. 

“This duration is shorter than a traditional interchange due to the unique design’s elimination of certain traffic signal cycles,” Ray noted. “While all drivers may have different experiences, studies by the Federal Highway Administration have found the intersection is safer, more efficient and provides an overall improved transportation experience for drivers.”

Although the traffic lights may seem to be low hanging, “the traffic signals at the intersection meet the federal and state design standard,” Ray wrote. “Drivers should always use caution when entering an intersection. Project engineering and inspection staff, as well as FDOT officials, have reviewed the area and found no deficiencies.”

Motorists who travel through the interchange must also be aware that vehicles cross in the middle. Ray maintains that travel is safe.

“The diverging diamond interchange reduces the number of conflict points (where collisions can occur) from 26 for a conventional interchange to 14 with the diverging diamond,” he wrote. “While the design is unique, studies have shown the interchange is safer, more efficient and a reliable design for interchanges. The Federal Highway Administration has studied the design and operations and Florida has implemented these interchanges at other areas around the state with great success. Whenever drivers travel to a new area or an area under construction on the roadway, they are encouraged to use caution, follow the posted speed limit and follow pavement markings and signage.”

The existing orange barriers that guide drivers into the correct lanes will be removed within the next several weeks when construction is finished. After that, permanent curbs and gutters will help guide drivers through the interchange. 

“The installation of all curbs and gutters throughout the project limits is almost complete,” Ray noted. 

“Roadway signs and pavement markings further help direct drivers and should not be ignored.” 

ksciullo@nassaucountyrecord.com