Published On: Thu, Mar 18th, 2021

Boca’s Glades Road overpass to sport ‘diverging diamond’ interchange by 2023

By: Dale King

A common observation states that diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

But does a new roadway design called a “diverging diamond interchange” have a chance to become the motoring public’s best friend?

That is something that drivers who use Boca Raton’s Glades Road, one of busiest thoroughfares in the city as well as in Palm Beach County, will find out in a couple of years.

The Florida Department of Transportation this month launched a major highway project that will impact Interstate 95, the Clint Moore Road bridge over ’95 and the Glades Road overpass just west of the intersection with Airport Road and NW 15th Avenue.

“The 95 Express Lanes Phase 3B-2 project will extend the existing express lanes [on I-95] north from just south of Glades Road to south of Linton Boulevard in Delray Beach.”

The express lanes, much like those that already exist on highways in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, cuts travel time for through traffic because cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles can use the limited access lanes for speedier long-distance trips.  

In preparation for the new express lanes, FDOT has already erected large directional signs on ’95 showing where and how vehicles can jump into the fast lanes and how much it will cost for the quicker trip.  Motorists will be charged via Sun Pass or by license plate billing.

Actually, two major construction projects in the works, one of which will overhaul the Glades Road interchange. The Glades Road bridge that carries local traffic over I-95 north and south will be revamped into an unconventional, yet increasingly popular new formation — a “diverging diamond.”

A newly developed traffic idea — also called a double crossover diamond interchange – provides a safe, traffic light-controlled roadway in which traffic on the non-freeway road crosses to the opposite lanes on both sides of the bridge at the freeway, says an internet description of the interchange.

It is unusual, the web notes, in that it requires traffic on the freeway overpass to briefly drive on the opposite side of the road from what motorists customary do.  

The diamond-shaped pattern, first used in France around 2000, came to the United States in 2009 with the first diverging diamond interchange in Springfield, Mo. Since then, more than 100 have been created across the country and more are being planned.

Highway designers consider the slightly unorthodox design to be a safer method than the straight-across-the-bridge system.

Among other things, the diamond will make left turns onto ’95 north and south safer by eliminating long turns and reducing the likelihood that cars may enter the highway in the wrong direction.

FDOT says the traffic realignment will also establish routes from NW 15th Avenue near the Boca High athletic complex and Airport Road by the city’s utility department onto Glades Road and through to ’95.

One other unorthodox element. Pedestrians will cross the new Glades Road bridge by walking along a sidewalk in the middle, between the eastbound and westbound lanes.

The projects will cost an estimated $148 million. The Glades Road bridge work should be finished by summer 2023, says FDOT. The overall project should be finished by late 2023.

Regarding the new express lanes, the DOT says: “One lane will be added, and the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane will be converted to create two express lanes in each direction. The number of general use lanes will remain the same.”

“Access to the express lanes will be provided via two designated ingress and egress locations – between Glades Road and Spanish River Boulevard and between Yamato Road and Linton Boulevard.”

FDOT says reconstruction of the Clint Moore Road bridge over I-95 also kicks off this month. “To ensure motorist and pedestrian safety, this bridge will be closed completely during construction. Crews are permitted to work from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. No work will be permitted on Sundays and holidays.”

Emergency access for first responders will be maintained throughout the duration of the closure, says FDOT. “Westbound traffic will be detoured via NW Second Avenue, Yamato Road and Congress Avenue. Eastbound traffic will be detoured via Park of Commerce Boulevard, Congress Avenue, Yamato Road and NW Second Avenue.”

Local neighborhood access will be maintained. Only the approaches and the bridge over ’95 will be closed.

Reconstruction of the Clint Moore bridge is expected to be completed by summer of 2022.

For more information about the project, those interested can visit the project website, www.d4fdot.com.

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