In what could be considered an early Christmas gift to local holiday shoppers, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) decided to hold off on beginning construction of the diverging diamond interchange (DDI) planned for the intersection of S.R. 56 and I-75.

Construction of the three-year, nearly $40-million project was originally supposed to kick off in November.

“In my opinion, it was a good idea,” said Ryan Forrestel of American Consulting Engineers (ACE), the design project manager for the project. ACE holds the patent on the diverging diamond design.

Although he adds that he wasn’t involved in the decision to delay the project, “it was a good idea to avoid the holiday.”

The delay may have saved shoppers this month, but in January, the project will begin in earnest and drivers can expect to begin experiencing slowdowns, Forrestel said.

The DDI  was originally slated to begin in 2024 before getting moved up, so the delay is minor by comparison.

With its crossover pattern, switching traffic lanes and timed lights, the DDI is expected to ease congestion at the busy intersection, which is near the Tampa Premium Outlets and a dozen or so restaurants, while also serving as primary gateway for those heading to, or home from, Tampa.

DDIs are growing in popularity nationwide, and last year one opened to great reviews in Sarasota, the first DDI in Florida.

There are also plans to build one at the I-75 and MLK Blvd. interchange in Tampa.

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