I am the second-place winner of the 2014 Missouri Press Foundation’s “Better Newspaper Contest” for Best Columnist – Humorous. I am not really trying to be funny; snarky maybe, but funny is not on my radar most of the time. Three of my columns were chosen. Here is one from October, 2013 for your pleasure.
The Diverging Diamond Dilemma
I did it. I challenged the gantlet and survived, though 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 O.K. At worse, confusing.
OK, for those of you who have decided to get on and off the interstate at the Business Loop 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 worth a darn of the new interchange, if they had one at all. The only real depiction is found on the Missouri Department of Transportation site http://bit.ly/1ezLC7T 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 in 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. North bound 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. South bound 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.
North Stadium to east bound I-70 is not a problem, nor is Stadium south 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 on to the interstate; you will avoid the traffic stopped at the new stop light at the south and north ends of the bridge.
Stadium north 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 Stadium south or I-70 east to Stadium north 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 and easier to 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 traffic on the other side of the bridge before they make their cross over. 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 the Coach Pinkel find the 2013 football Tigers? Beating the Gators decisively and holding a record of 7-0 should put the team in the top 5 nationally. And for the first time since moving from Colorado I’ll put my Buffs ball cap away and wear a Tiger’s strips for next weekend’s South Carolina game. At least they are the same colors.