Changing the interchange; that’s the plan the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has for the area where I-74 and John Deere Road meet.

The current I-74 interchange at John Deere Road has looping on and off ramps called “cloverleafs,” a reference to what they look like from a bird’s-eye view, but engineers with IDOT say cloverleaf interchanges are outdated and no longer the best solution for managing traffic flow at interchanges with high volumes of traffic.

“Cloverleaf interchanges are no longer considered a modern solution,” Becky Marruffo, Engineer of Program Development with IDOT said. “For people who live and travel in the Quad Cities, they know there’s a lot of traffic that goes in and out of this interchange.”

IDOT engineers say the current I-74 and John Deere Road interchange forces vehicles to merge into traffic in a very narrow window of time, causing more accidents between vehicles. According to the Moline Police Department, they have responded to 15 crashes at the interchange from the start of 2021 until now, which averages out to roughly one crash per month.

“When we have a high volume of those weaving movements,” Marruffo said. “It leads to additional crashes.”

So, in comes IDOT’s new plan for the interchange: turning it into a Diverging Diamond Interchange, or DDI.

“It’s (DDI designs) a very modern type of interchange that is specifically built to accommodate these types of high volume, high movement interchange needs,” Marruffo said.

Changing the cloverleaf interchange into a DDI would add new I-74 on and off ramps that are basic curves instead of full loops, as well as additional traffic signals to help control the flow of traffic.

But in addition to those changes, DDI’s also temporarily move traffic to the opposite side of the road, meaning traffic on John Deere Road would drive on the left side of the road when crossing the bridge overtop of I-74.

“We’ve heard more than once, ‘well what is this, the UK?’,” Marruffo said.

But IDOT engineers say the odd-looking design helps minimize merging or weaving between lanes, so that the road essentially carries you where you need to go.

“It allows us to control those movements, and it improves safety because you’re not doing those weaving movements,” Marruffo said.

IDOT has now finished phase one in their project to redesign the interchange, which is basically the planning and engineering phase. They say their next step is getting funding and finding contractors to do the work. However, with an estimated construction cost of $80 million, they predict it will still be five or six years until construction on the new interchange actually begins.

“Once we have that (funding), then we’ll start that process and work towards the construction phase,” Marruffo said.