First there were roundabouts, promoted to improve safety and move traffic more efficiently. Now come “diverging diamond” interchanges, the first of which opened just before Thanksgiving on I-70 in Washington County.

As with roundabouts, they are difficult to imagine until you drive through one. But the object is to make the interchange safer by eliminating left-hand turns across oncoming traffic. They also move traffic more efficiently and are less expensive to build than traditional cloverleaf interchanges.

Transportation officials in Missouri swear by them. The Show Me state was among the first to try them, and has now built 19 in the last eight years.

In the mid-state, PennDOT plans to put one at the Shrewsbury exit of I-83 in York County and another near Ephrata in Lancaster County linking routes 322 and 222.

Of course, Pennsylvania’s new roundabouts and diverging diamond interchanges come to us courtesy of Act 89 of 2013. If you click on the link below, you’ll find a video near the bottom of the article. It’s not quite as instructive as driving through one, but it comes pretty close.

Transportation Issue Update

  • The first one is now up and running on I-70 in Washington County, and PennDOT has plans for more “diverging diamond” interchanges to move traffic more efficiently.
  • The PA Turnpike Commission approved a nearly 6 percent toll increase last summer, which will go into effect in January. Toll revenue totaling about $6 billion has been generated for non-toll roads and bridges and public transportation since 2007.
  • The REAL ID drivers’ licenses will no begin to be distributed until spring 2019, but PennDOT says it’s not too soon to start gathering the documents that will be necessary t obtain one.
  • Work will begin late next year on a project that will improve an eight-mile stretch of I-78 in the Lehigh Valley. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.
  • Uncertainty is growing in Washington over whether the Trump administration will immediately turn to an infrastructure package after Congress finishes tax reform. President Trump has promised to unveil his long-awaited rebuilding plan after taxes, but he may be eager to first revisit the health-care debate, some say.
  • PennDOT reports that the backlog of structurally deficient bridges, once at 25 percent, has dropped to the national average of 10 percent, thanks largely to the transportation revenue boost from Act 89.
  • Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-44) joined PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and various government officials at a news conference announcing the expedited delivery of a new and improved U.S. 422 bridge over the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County.