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Roanoke's diverging diamond interchange opens

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The diverging diamond interchange at Valley View Mall opened on Monday.

The $63.9 million project is expected to make it safer and easier for drivers near Valley View Boulevard and Interstate 581.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials said the design is expected to reduce congestion.

"It gives us different means of egress and entrance into Valley View Mall," said Jen Ward, VDOT Communications Coordinator.

Drivers will have an off-ramp from southbound I-581 onto Valley View Boulevard and an on-ramp from Valley View Boulevard onto northbound I-581 which is expected to make a positive change to traffic flow. But these changes may take some time for drivers to get accustomed to.

"Drivers will be traveling to the left side for a portion of the interchange," said Ward.

Officials advise drivers to slow down and pay close attention to the signs and pavement markings showing drivers which direction to go. While it's different from the old way people traveled to and from the mall, officials said the diverging diamonds will be more effective

'It uses a smaller thumbprint so we don't take up as much space to do it and it also has been proven to be a safer means as an interchange," said Ward. "As well as the flow of traffic goes faster and more efficient and people can get to where they are going with less lights and interference."

City leaders said the ribbon cutting for the project comes at a good time, just ahead of the busy holiday-travel season.

"The timing couldn't be better as we prepare for the holiday season," said Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea. "But this is going to allow people to get in and out of Valley View Mall which is a heavy-traffic area."

In addition to reducing traffic problems, state and local leaders see the road project as a sign that the region is headed in the right direction.

"Sign of us progressively working to develop our community and economic development environment," said Lea.