Work is scheduled to begin Monday to eliminate decades-old bottlenecks at a Charlotte-area highway exit.
Interstate 77 Gilead Road Exit 23 in Huntersville is getting the same type of “diverging diamond” interchange that has cleared traffic messes elsewhere in the Carolinas and other states over the past decade, including I-77 Cornelius Exit 28 at Lake Norman.
Traffic flows more smoothly because drivers no longer stack up at lights where the highway exit ramps meet the main road. Drivers on the main road no longer have lights to stop at before heading onto the interstate.
“Is there a negative here?” former Cornelius commissioner Jim Bensman asked a North Carolina Department of Transportation official back in 2010 when the agency revealed its diverging diamond plans for Exit 28, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time.
“We’re all shocked an idea this good could come out of France,” Cornelius commissioner Dave Gilroy quipped before the board voted to approve the plan. “... Safe to say, our feelings (about diverging diamonds) are extremely positive.”’
At the time, only one intersection in the U.S. had a diverging diamond, in Springfield, Missouri.
Diverging diamonds are now everywhere. One opened last Monday, Sept. 13, at the Gold Hill Road and I-77 intersection in Fort Mill, S.C., The (Rock Hill) Herald reported.
The town of Huntersville on Friday tweeted a picture of an electronic NCDOT sign announcing what town officials said was Monday’s start date on the Exit 23 diverging diamond.
“WE HAVE SEEN THE SIGNS - NOW WE HAVE SOME ANSWERS!” the town tweeted. “According to NCDOT, they will begin construction next week on the interchange of I-77 & Gilead Road for a new bridge which will become a diverging diamond interchange.”
The expected completion date and other project details weren’t available Saturday.
“We will share more information as it becomes available,” the town promised on Twitter.
Diverging diamonds typically take mere months to complete, because the design is configured into the existing road network, but it wasn’t known Saturday if that will the case with Exit 23.
NCDOT revealed plans for the diverging diamond in 2014, according to the NCDOT Exit 23 project page.
At the time, the state intended to complete the interchange by 2018, according to the project page.
The project will improve Gilead Road from Reese Boulevard to U.S. 21, highway officials said on the page.
WE HAVE SEEN THE SIGNS - NOW WE HAVE SOME ANSWERS! According to NCDOT, they will begin construction next week on the interchange of I-77 & Gilead Road for a new bridge which will become a diverging diamond interchange. We will share more information as it becomes available. pic.twitter.com/qDdMLsENw1
— Town of Huntersville (@HuntersvilleGOV) September 17, 2021