West Michigan’s first diverging diamond opens Friday

Aerial photo of diverging diamond at I-96 and Cascade Road (Oct. 20, 2016)
Aerial photo of diverging diamond at I-96 and Cascade Road (Oct. 20, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan’s first diverging diamond will open to drivers Friday.

The new road configuration has been under construction for more than a year along Cascade Road and Interstate 96 in Grand Rapids Township.

“We’ve been working on this project for a long time, (between) development, design, and now construction. It’s a big one and we’re really excited about it,” said Nate VanDrunen of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The new configuration will open to drivers after rush hour Friday. MDOT says by Saturday morning, drivers will notice a difference.

“It’s going to be a different look but it’s going to be a lot more effective out here on Cascade at 96,” added John Richard of MDOT.

The change is needed. For years now, the daily morning and evening congestion on Cascade Road at I-96 has been almost unbearable for drivers. The new configuration will help that issue.

“The traffic will be crossed over to the opposite side of the road. Of course, the benefit of that is the through time and left turn happen at the same time. So left turners do not turn in front of oncoming traffic,” Richard explained.

The diverging diamond also makes it safer for the nearly 20,000 vehicles that pass through the intersection each day, by reducing the number of points of potential crashes from 26 to 14.

This is the second diverging diamond in the state; MDOT installed the first one at Auburn Hills along I-75 in November 2015.

Diverging diamond interchange in Auburn Hills. (Courtesy MDOT/ Nov. 19, 2015)
Diverging diamond interchange in Auburn Hills. (Courtesy MDOT/ Nov. 19, 2015)

“Everyone has really seemed to enjoy it. It’s improved operations. So we’re looking forward to getting this back open to traffic because this is a busy area,” Richard said.

Drivers may be apprehensive when they first approach the diverging diamond, but MDOT employees say if you follow the signals and signs, you’ll be just fine.

“Don’t be afraid of ‘the braid’ as we say. It’s going to be a different look, but it’s really easy to navigate and I think people are really going to enjoy it,” said Richard.

At first, drivers will encounter lane restrictions – one lane in each direction. The on-ramp to eastbound I-96 from Cascade Road will also be closed until mid-November. When everything opens, MDOT workers say the project will be on time and on budget.