BILLINGS – A safer and more efficient configuration could soon be built for the Johnson Lane Interchange in Lockwood, as part of the planned Billings Bypass, according to state transportation officials.
The Montana Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that a new design, called a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), would work best where Johnson Lane connects with Interstate 90.
"The incorporation of DDI with the Billings Bypass presents an opportunity to more efficiently move vehicles and pedestrians while increasing safety, which is among our highest priorities," said Stefan Streeter, the agency’s Billings district administrator. "We believe the interchange will not only provide a safer experience but also be seamless and easily navigable for the many users."
More than 80 of these types interchanges have been built around the country, but none so far in Montana.
"It really allows them to control that traffic so people can move through it in an efficient and quick manner,” said Jolene Rieck, Billings Bypass spokeswoman and Peaks to Plains Design principal landscape architect. “It looks a little bit confusing. The traffic patterns actually cross but to the average driver in their car, it’ll look like any other intersection. Approximately 40 years out is what they design for. Kind of comes with a crystal ball about what kind of growth we’re going to see in Lockwood and Billings, and I think we’re going to see a lot of it. And I think this will be a great solution to help supplement that growth."
The new interchange is scheduled to be built in about five to six years, depending on funding and acquiring rights of way.
Construction on other phases of the Billings Bypass, between Lockwood and Highways 87 and 312, will be built before the Diverging Diamond Interchange.
Watch this video to see a full simulation of the diamond interchange: