The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 24, 2013

Wally Kennedy: New interchange has at least one fan

JOPLIN, Mo. — So far, I have not met many people who have said they actually like the new diverging-diamond interchange that’s been constructed at Range Line Road and Interstate 44.

In fact, I have met only one person who is truly happy with the new design — Cpl. Dan Haskins, head of the Joplin Police Department’s traffic division. That’s because the design has lived up to its promise of fewer car crashes.

“We’ve only had two since it opened,” he said. “One of them occurred on the first day when a motorist found the whole thing to be too overwhelming.”

The other accident involved a motorcyclist who was fleeing from police but was unaware that the new design had been put in place. Oops!

The motorcyclist “found he could not take those curves at 80 mph,’’ said Haskins.

Haskins said that motorists are having a hard time adjusting to the new design because “it’s so different, so out of the box. People think the person who came up with this idea had to be crazy, but it works. It’s amazing how effective it is.”

The person who came up with the idea, as I recall, is from France. Hmm. Perhaps that is enough said.

Fortunately, the design features plenty of directional arrows and traffic signals to guide us happily on our way. But still, when I go through the interchange, it’s 100 percent defensive driving. I’m watching everybody else in case I encounter someone who is a buffet item or two shy of a full combination platter. Let’s face it, there are a lot of distracted drivers out there who are easily bumfuzzled. That’s the scenario I worry about.

Maybe that’s why there have been so few accidents. Drivers have their guard up the moment they approach the new interchange because they really can’t tell what’s coming at them and from what direction.

What I worry about is a meeting of the minds between the person who came up with the idea for the roundabout and the person who came up with the idea for the diverging-diamond interchange.

Let’s pray these people never cross paths, or else we will be doing upside-down loops on elevated ramps that would rival anything at Silver Dollar City.

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