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Construction begins on first Tulsa 'Divergent Diamond' interchange project

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 06, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — A massive road project began Monday at the Highway 169 and Creek Turnpike interchange, laying the groundwork for the "Diverging Diamond."

The interchange has been a cause for concern for a while. It’s congested, confusing and almost constantly busy, but the Oklahoma Department of Transportation came up with a plan to remedy those issues called the Diverging Diamond.

“It takes traffic temporarily onto the left side of the road instead of the right and just to a more free-flowing onto and off of the highway,” said ODOT Spokesperson TJ Gerlach.

The Diverging Diamond is popular in other states but it’s only been done once here in Oklahoma. In Elk City, the Diverging Diamond was used east and westbound on Interstate 40. Here in Tulsa, the same project aims to make the often dangerous Highway 169 and Creek Turnpike interchange less confusing and easier to navigate.

“Safety is always our number one priority, and these interchanges have proven to reduce the number of collisions that happen at the interchange," Gerlach said. "The number of collision points is reduced by about half and the collisions that do happen tend to be less severe as well."

Although this is a massive project, ODOT said the three roads will remain open.

“We’ll keep two lanes open on Memorial Drive, both north and southbound,” Gerlach said. "There will be a brief period where we’ll have to narrow the northbound lanes to just one lane, we’ll be sure to let everybody know when that happens, and there’s no closures for the ramps planned at all."

Looking at the rendering of the finished diamond, it looks a little daunting, but Gerlach said there will be plenty of signage to tell drivers how to navigate it once it’s completed.

The Diverging Diamond is slated to be completed spring of 2024 with a cost of $13 million.

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