By Rachel Wulff

MANTECA (CBS13) – The first-ever interchange of its kind in California is set to open in Manteca three months early.

A diverging diamond interchange has been talked about for decades in Manteca and officially went under construction in June 2019.

Crews are putting the finishing touches on the project, which is located on Union Road over Highway 120 – right alongside Teri Candelaria’s home.

“I think everybody’s ready, it’s been crazy,” Candelaria said.

The project got its name because it looks like a diamond from overhead. It works like a roundabout by decreasing the number of conflict or collision points between vehicles by shifting traffic to the left side of the road, before being shifted back to the right – eliminating any left-hand turns through the intersection.

“When you look at the flow of traffic, at first it might seem daunting, but I myself personally have driven on them in other states and really you don’t even realize what’s happening if you just follow your traffic lanes and follow your traffic lights,” said Skip Allum with Caltrans.

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City leaders said the interchange is more cost-effective, allowing the city to retain the existing overcrossing structure while saving time and money.

“We have ten years to do two more of these in Manteca. That’s the goal,” Manteca Mayor Benjamin Cantu said.

The new interchange also offers a separate pedestrian and bike path.

“I don’t know if it will help with the commute just yet,” John Pereira said. “It gets crazy in the mornings and the evenings are just as difficult.”

Construction will wrap on the interchange on November 25. It’s a nice present in time for the holidays, according to Candelaria.

“It looks way better than it did and so hopefully it will keep it smoother,” she said.

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