I-96 project begins at Cascade Road to create unusual interchange

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Artist rendering of diverging diamond interchange at I-96 and Cascade Rd.

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. — For years, making a left turn from Cascade Road to I-96 has meant long waits for oncoming traffic to clear. Wednesday, work began on an unusual solution where eastbound and westbound traffic switches sides. It’s called a diverging diamond interchange.

First, the Michigan Department of Transportation will build one of two new bridges that will carry Cascade Road traffic over I-96. To accommodate construction, I-96 traffic will shift eastbound and westbound, but most of the time there will be no lane closures.

In 2016, the old Cascade Road bridge will be demolished and replaced. Eventually, eastbound and westbound traffic on Cascade Road will switch sides at the interchange, which will eliminate the traffic signals at the entrance ramps. (Watch the video for MDOT’s view of the finished interchange.)

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  • Steven

    Idiotic waste of money. Impossible to plow well in winter, two bridges to maintain instead of one, and all for what? To save people a couple seconds of time?? Meanwhile, roads are crumbling all over the state. Patience is free. Road surfaces are not. This is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, and a gross breach of public trust.

  • Kevin Rahe

    The music at the new intersection, as heard in the video, should help keep people calm as they learn how to navigate it and stew over how much it cost while the street in front of their house is crumbling.

  • Arthur F.

    Man, we got sold a bill of goods on this white elephant. The traffic physics does not support this being at all a viable solution, and actually indicate that it will make congestion even worse! Navigating them is easy, but they do not…CAN NOT…improve traffic flow unless they add enough lanes to decrease the number of cars per lane per mile to less than 40. It is physics, plain and simple. This project will make things worse, not better. It will be more expensive to maintain, as well. If you have a business in this area, I would look to relocate ASAP because once it opens nobody will want to have anything to do with driving in this area.

  • Adam King

    First to Steven, the existing bridge is barely holding together now it has to be replace. Second, Cascade cannot be detoured around because each detour is more that 6 miles out of the way and already over their designed capacities, by building 2 bridges traffic can be shifted when replacement occurs in 2016. Third, rush hour while problematic on I-96 at this point, most of the congestion is caused by slower traffic coming off Cascade Road. MDOT will also be extending the on and off ramps to Cascade as part of this project to help traffic flow. MDOT also has plans to add lanes and fix the I-96/East Beltline/I-196 headache that causes all kinds of problems, that is going to cost $435 million to add a 3rd lane to 96 and 196 and reconfigure the East Beltline and 196 interchanges, maybe we should try to crowd fund that and help MDOT get it done since they are no closer to a budget increase than I am of ever personally hoisting the Stanley Cup.

    Yes its gonna cost a chunk of change, I get that. The project cost from MDOT is about $16 million which represents 1.4% of MDOT’s annual maintenance budget this year and will when complete, reduce congestion on Cascade Road, repave 1.5 miles of Cascade Road, replace a 62 year old bridge that in spots can be seen through, add longer merge lanes, complete the M-21 interchange to a 4-way diamond. Total construction time is over the next 2 years because of its complexity.

    • jkarst

      I agree with You. I travel these roads commercially, and see a need to improve traffic flow and aging infrastructure. It is good to see the Dean lake overpass on I-96 being repaired. I drive under it daily and always wondered if a chunck of concrete would hit my windshield. Good to see MDOT working.