By Wilson Walker

MANTECA (KPIX) – Something new is coming to California highways and it is already under construction in Manteca. Drivers will soon be driving through the state’s first diverging diamond interchange.

“This is the first time that we’ve tried it here in California,” says Bart Ney, new chief of public affairs for Caltrans. “So we’re going to assess what it’s like to build one and put it into operation and how well it works.”

More Californians are looking to the Central Valley for housing and for Manteca that means new traffic loads. That’s the drive behind the new interchange on Highway 120 and Union Road. It will also be a new driving experience for those who have never passed through one in another state.

”I don’t think motorists are ever really confused by it, except when they try to understand it,” Ney laughs. “When they drive it it’s very natural and it’s actually easier.”

States like Utah that have already installed diverging diamond interchanges have also rolled out instructional video for drivers. While it can look complicated, drivers should get more open traffic flow between the freeways and the interchanges.

”If you keep in mind that’s what happening here is that the actual roadway is crossing over instead of traffic,” Ney says. “That’s how it becomes more safe and efficient.”

The first DDI will be in Manteca, and there will be more. While Ney says there is no official list yet, he says any interchange that comes up for review, could conceivably be a candidate for the diverging diamond approach. “Wherever we have traffic congestion where we have an intersection and have a major freeway, a limited space, might be a potential candidate for this.”