A steady stream of traffic moved through a brand new traffic pattern Saturday morning at the Interstate 64 and Route 15 interchange at Zion Crossroads.
There were definitely some confused looks on drivers' faces, but besides the initial confusion, most of the drivers we spoke with say the unique traffic pattern is flowing smoothly.
“It kind of reminds you, you know if you are in a foreign country, so it was kind of weird seeing cars on the right hand side as opposed to the left,” said Michael Watson from Louisa County.
“It was all very clear, even my husband and I mentioned it held nice,” said Louisa County resident Anna Henley. “It was well planned and well thought ahead.”
It's called the diverging diamond. Drivers shift to the left side of the road, which is unusual for most Americans.
“This way people merge in the same way the direction is flowing so it is a safer movement,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Lou Hatter.
It is the first diverging diamond in Virginia. VDOT says the crisscrossing pattern is more efficient and less expensive than the well-known cloverleaf interstate interchange.
“We've saved more than $20 million by doing the project this way,” Hatter said.
VDOT monitored the traffic pattern throughout the day Saturday and calls this major change a success.
“There are two more diverging diamond interchanges that are in the design stage in the Roanoke area,” Hatter said.
But for drivers, it may take some time to get used to.
“It was very weird coming up and seeing cars facing you prior to merging over to the left, and then as you are going over seeing cars in the opposite direction,” Watson said.
VDOT crews plan to paint all the lane markings on Monday to make the traffic pattern permanent.
They will then take away the orange and white barrels that currently direct drivers through the interchange.
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