Auburn Hills Gets Fancy New Bridge, First in Michigan

Renaissance_Unity_Brown_TopAuburn Hills Gets Fancy gardenfreshADNew Bridge, First in Michigan

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 12, 2015)

The Diverging Diamond Interchange is here, aka the fancy new bridge at University and I-75 in Auburn Hills.

The bridge not only serves drivers on University, but incorporates on and off ramps for I-75. The bridge that was there was over 50 years old and needed to be replaced. But instead of the traditional design, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) decided to go with a steele lindbloom addesign that is popping up in other places around the county and the world. The Diverging Diamond Interchange has some unique features that may seem unusual at first, but that officials hope will make driving in the area safer.

The bridge connects people from all over SE Michigan to places like Oakland University, Baker College and OCC. It also is a main exit for industrial and corporate jobs in Auburn Hills and Pontiac.

The most notable feature is that on the main span of the bridge drivers cross over and seem to be on the wrong side of the road. But the quirk makes is so that traffic can flow gracefully in any direction as it comes to the far end of the bridge.CFSEM-123-OaklandCounty115-digital-ad_v2

“The innovative DDI uses a narrower bridge, no large loop ramps, and 97 percent less additional land compared to the previously cleared, more expensive partial cloverleaf design,” according to the MDOT website.

Other Diverging Diamond Interchange Advantages include: reduced delays, lower speeds, low conflict points, increased acceleration distance going on to I-75, shorter signal times, and direct access from Chrysler Drive to NB I-75 without stopping at University Drive Signal.
“In Auburn Hills, we pride ourselves on maintaining an exceptional infrastructure that supports all of our neighborhoods and the business community,” said City Manager Tom Tanghe in a recent blog post on the subject.  “Moving traffic safely and efficiently is sidebar01sponsorone of the hallmarks of a great community.”

The project came at a cost of approximately $25 million, similar to what a traditional replacement would have cost.  The Auburn Hills Tax Increment Finance Authority, an economic development arm of the City, contributed $4 million to make it happen.  “This project is perhaps the pinnacle of innovation and collaboration.  Although DDI’s do exist in other parts of the country, as previously mentioned, this is Michigan’s first.  One might say that constructing it was the easy part.  Funding on the other hand, is where the collaboration comes in,” Tanghe said. “Through direct legislative support, the State government, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the City of Auburn Hills, and the City’s Tax Increment Finance Authority, many came together to make this project come to fruition.  In addition, local corporations added their support by lobbying for this improvement to happen.  Many people were involved and the City of Auburn Hills says “thank you” to all of them.”

“I hope you are as enthusiastic as I am,” he said. “Please take extra caution and please be patient.  Like anything new, it will take a little getting used to at first.  But if traversed appropriately, you will find it an effective means of moving through the interchange.  Safe driving to all!”

Learn more about the project on the MDOT website at http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9621_11058-328173–,00.html.

Here is a video that explains a similar bridge in North Carolina:

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