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Different concept introduced for I-40 interchange

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As Clemmons continues to explore the most effective ways to make improvements to the I-40 interchange at Lewisville-Clemmons Road, Division 9 engineer Pat Ivey introduced another option worth exploring — a diverging-diamond interchange.

“That interchange, particularly during rush hour, there are capacity problems, and we are very limited because of the amount of development in that area as far as what we can do,” Ivey said. “What we’re looking at is, do we need to improve the ramps, do we need to add loops, or do we need to look at something more out of the box like a diverging-diamond exchange or something like that to help with flow?

“If you’re not familiar with a diverging diamond, if you’ve been to the interchange at Union Cross Road and I-40 in Kernersville, that is a diverging diamond. It’s relatively new in North Carolina. We have about 10 of those in the state now, and they’re very popular. And they’re popular because they work. You just have to get used to them.”

Ivey, who is the longtime engineer for Division 9, which includes Forsyth, Davie, Davidson, Rowan and Stokes counties, was one of the keynote speakers at the recent combined meeting of the Rotary Club of Clemmons and the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, Ivey addressed the state of local transportation, including many projects in his jurisdiction such as the one with improvements to Lewisville-Clemmons Road between U.S. 158 and Peace Haven Road and how the new I-40 interchange might look.

So if it’s a possibility, what exactly is a diverging-diamond interchange? According to the NCDOT, it is an interchange “that allows two directions of traffic to temporarily cross to the left side of the road. It moves high volumes of traffic through an intersection without increasing the number of lanes and traffic signals. This movement provides easier access to an interstate.”

Ivey said, “We’re just looking at different things to try and figure out what we can do to make that interchange much better than it is now.”

After NCDOT and Clemmons officials focused so long on the stretch from I-40 to U.S. 158 and particularly the segment from I-40 to Stadium Drive where a median is recommended, Ivey said earlier this year that the interchange needed to become a priority.

Following Clemmons allocating all its Transportation Advisory Committee points to the Lewisville-Clemmons Road improvements project in September 2018, a couple of delegates from the council — Chris Wrights and Pamela (PJ) Lofland — were appointed to work with NCDOT going forward.

There were a couple of informal meetings in 2019, but in September came word from NCDOT that there was a sudden detour with that all preconstruction activities on this project and others throughout the state being put on hold by unforeseen budget issues created by the impact of recovery efforts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, rockslides, snowstorms and isolated flash floods as well as settlement expenses related to Map Act cases.

However, Ivey said that NCDOT has been working through those challenges by tightening up in different areas and received a boost from the General Assembly with additional funding in November that will “help us move forward with many of these projects. Even with the financial downturn and budgetary issues we have dealt with in this fiscal year, we’re still going to award $2 billion for projects in North Carolina. There’s a lot of work going on out there. You can’t go anywhere in Forsyth County without running into barrels.”

Regarding the Lewisville-Clemmons Road improvements project, Ivey added, “We’re excited about getting that project moving forward. Our consultant will pick up work again after the first of the year.”

Ivey said that right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin in 2023, followed by construction in 2025.

In the December Clemmons Village Council meeting, councilman Scott Binkley was appointed as the new delegate to team up with Wrights in working with NCDOT after Lofland lost out in her bid for re-election.

Ivey also provided updates on a couple of other projects in the area.

He said that the Peace Haven Road interchange with U.S. 421 should be completed by this summer, adding that most of the work on the interchange is finished and that the majority of the work ahead is on U.S. 421 itself being widened to six lanes from the Muddy Creek Bridge all the way south to where it is currently six lanes.

Ivey said that the I-40 widening project from Harper Road to N.C. 801 to six lanes recently completed Phase I of the new westbound bridge.

“What you see now is the second half of the new westbound bridge,” Ivey said. “That will be completed in February. Once that’s done, we’ll shift the eastbound traffic over onto the new bridge so both eastbound and westbound will be on that brand new bridge. We’ll tear the old bridge down and then can build the new eastbound direction. All of that project should be completed by January of 2021.”