Diverging diamond traffic project coming to hectic north Austin intersection

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — TxDOT broke ground Wednesday on a new project addressing what some people call the worst intersection in Austin— Parmer Lane and I-35.

TxDOT’s traffic solution to the bustling intersection is called a diverging diamond interchange (DDI).

The traffiic plan has already been used several times in the Austin area. The first DDI opened less than four years ago in Round Rock at FM 1431 and I-35.

Eight months ago, the DDI at Slaughter and MoPac in south Austin was opened for use. TxDOT recently announced plans to build a fourth intersection of this kind at RM 2222 and Loop 360.

How the diverging diamond works

Crews won’t demolish the intersection’s bridge, instead, they’ll just change the way they use it.

Drivers on Parmer Lane coming from either direction will momentarily shift to the left side of the road before they either continue on or turn onto the highway frontage road.

As for people coming off the highway, they can make an easy turn if they go right or make a pit stop at a light if they’re turning left.

TxDOT says they also have plans to add a southbound bypass lane and rebuild the northbound bypass lane. This will allow drivers to skip the intersection altogether.

It may sound complicated, but TxDOT’s goal is to un-complicate the commute for drivers.

“By putting in a diverging diamond at this intersection, we’re really going to allow traffic to get through there much faster,” TxDOT spokesperson Diann Hodges said.

Austinite Bill Heckle is one of those drivers frustrated by the consistent back-up at the intersection.

“I go through it six days a week, I take Sunday off. Traffic has only gotten worse, it’s gotten slower, lines get longer,” Heckle said.

However, the DDI won’t pop up overnight and the construction may affect businesses at the Tech Ridge shopping center.

“Any type of construction going on next door is a concern for us,” Daily Juice barista Cameron Blew said.

The project will also include improvements to exit and entrance ramps, as well as new shared-use paths on the frontage road. Crews say the project will take about two years to complete.

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