This stoplight-free design was once a finalist in the running to be the U.S. 250/Meadowcreek Parkway interchange.
In June 2008, City Council opted for a traditional signalized diamond.
The ever-increasing traffic at Zion Crossroads, where U.S. 15 and Interstate 64 meet, means that it's time for a new interchange, and what the Virginia Department of Transportation has planned is a French import, a novel traffic configuration called the "diverging diamond."
Two selling points are that it can handle more traffic than a traditional diamond, and it eats less land than a cloverleaf. The odd part is that it makes vehicles momentarily drive on the left side of a divided highway. While that's not something to which Americans are accustomed, a VDOT video seems to make it look smooth, as there are no left turns across traffic.
America got its first diverging diamond in 2009 in Missouri, now home to three of them, while Utah and Tennessee each have one. A public hearing on the design for the one planned for Zion Crossroads was held June 22, with the $7.95 million, federally funded project slated to get under way next year.
In the world of unconventional traffic devices, Charlottesville's Meadowcreek Parkway was once considered for a roundabout-centric interchange after then County Supervisor Forrest Marshall delivered a $27 million earmark from Washington in 2005. But in 2008, concerns over cost, land, and bicycle-friendliness pushed City Council to opt instead for a traditional signalized diamond.
As the County's portion of the Parkway nears completion, the City recently accepted a $3.4 million bid to construct its portion this summer. As for the interchange, the Virginia Department of Transportation hopes to advertise bids for the project later this year.